Mexico‘s men’s national team will play its next two home games behind closed doors due to a recurrence of an anti-gay chant during the CONCACAF pre-Olympic qualifying tournament, FIFA announced Friday. A fine of roughly $65,000 was also attached to the ruling, and further sanctions were threatened, including a points reduction.
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“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Mexican Federation with a fine of 60,000 Swiss francs and the condition that they play their next two official home games behind closed doors as a consequence of the anti-gay chants heard in the matches against the Dominican Republic and the United States, played in Guadalajara on March 18 and 24, respectively,” the FIFA statement said.
Mexico’s next two official home games are World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica on Sept. 2 and Canada on Oct. 7.
According to FIFA’s statutes on discrimination, more severe punishments may be given for future breaches in order to stamp out the behavior. Those include a reduction in points in official tournaments including World Cup qualifiers, or Mexico being banned entirely from any tournament under FIFA’s purview, including the World Cup itself.
“Additionally, the committee has opened a second disciplinary dossier in relation to the anti-gay chants heard from Mexican fans in a friendly played against Iceland in Arlington, Texas on May 29,” the statement continued.
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No announcement was made over further investigations into similar behavior at El Tri‘s most recent matches, including the CONCACAF Nations League semifinal and final against Costa Rica and the United States, respectively. In both games, referees were forced to stop the action in order to ask fans at Empower Field in Denver to stop the behavior. Additionally, several public-address announcements were made before and during the match, aimed at informing fans about consequences from yelling the chant.
“This campaign is a very important step in our efforts to eradicate the goalkeeper chant, and to make it absolutely clear that we oppose all forms of discrimination in football,” said Victor Montagliani, CONCACAF president, ahead of the Nations League semifinal.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Mexico FA president Yon de Luisa emphasized that the federation rejected “any type of discrimination at Mexico national team games.”
El Tri manager Gerardo Martino expressed concern about the ramifications if the chant continued.
“I want to call on our fans to reflect on what these attitudes create for us. It pulls our team away from its fans. It means we play in empty stadiums and even that we could miss out on an international competition,” Martino said.
“We’re very worried. We’re worried about what’s coming, about the sanctions that could possibly be next, and because we don’t want to be pulled away from our fans. Any national team that wants to accomplish important things depends on its players and its fans.”