Mexican football fans banned for homophobic chant, but officials fear continued use of insults could lead to worse
There were public service announcements, public pleas, threats, fines, evictions and gambling interrupted by the warning that the action would not be allowed to continue.
Those involved and responsible for world football in general and Mexican football in particular have used just about every device available to prevent fans of Mexico’s men’s national team from yelling the offensive chant that followed almost every opposing goal. for two decades. .
Given the little impact that all of these devices have shown in recent years, it has gradually become apparent that there are only two methods that have the weight to suppress homophobic chants that need to be eliminated.
- Ban the team from important competitions. (Yes, THIS important competition). It would be a last resort, obviously unfair to players and coaches who are not involved in the misconduct, many of whom have campaigned publicly against it.
- Prohibit fans from watching important competitions.
It probably took too long for FIFA to implement this punishment, but at least when they finally hit that leverage, it looks like they didn’t make it for a meaningless friendly. Mexico will play their first two 2022 World Cup qualifiers – September 2 against Jamaica and October 7 against Canada – behind closed doors.
The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Mexican Football Association (FMF) with a fine of CHF 60,000 and an injunction to play its next two official home matches behind closed doors following homophobic chants by Mexican fans in the Olympic Football Tournament qualifiers against the Dominican Republic and the United States played in Guadalajara on March 18 and 24, 2021, respectively. – FIFA statement
By the time El Tri has played four of the 14 scheduled for the qualifying round, they will not have played once in front of the large and boisterous crowds that have helped make their clash such an extraordinary challenge for the other teams. of CONCACAF.
That’s what he happened to, because that’s the only way to stop him. There will be no homophobic chants for at least two games, and maybe the post will be taken as a result.
Federacion Mexicana de Futbol knew it was brewing on Thursday and held a press conference outside Mexico City that was also available to journalists outside the region via virtual videoconference. And the tone adopted by FMF President Yon de Luisa and head coach Tata Martino made it clear that they recognize that if Item # 2 is implemented, # 1 could be up close.
“And so on behalf of the Mexican Football Federation, of all our national teams and the clubs that are part of each of our divisions, but above all on behalf of all the fans who want to see our national team compete at the next World Cup in Qatar. Let’s stop it. Let’s stop it now, please, “said de Luisa, reading a prepared statement.” The bitch, besides being discriminatory and far from identifying us as the big fans that we are, it takes us away from our national team. For some who think it’s fun, today I’m here to tell you it’s not. Because you keep the fans away from the stadium. And that takes us away from our national team. Please let’s stop this. Let’s stop this now.
“I repeat that we have a long way to go. We cannot allow these sanctions to continue to pile up. And today we see the first major sanction, and it may get worse.”
The possibility that fans weren’t the only group left out of the stadium was an obvious concern for Martino.
“That we cannot be together in a qualification and that we could even lose an international competition with all the [things] who are in front of us, ”he told reporters. “I think the fans are giving so much support, and the players feel the support of our fans and ask them to focus on the national team, our players and the support they feel when the fans on the national team are behind their team.
“We are really worried and we are all expressing it. We’re worried about what’s going to happen and the penalties we might face and basically because we don’t want to be far from our fans. I think any national team that wants to do important things depends on their footballers, their team and the support of their fans. I invite people to think about this and invite them to focus and exclusively support the Mexican national team. “
Ahead of the CONCACAF Nations League games in Denver earlier this month, regional federation officials warned fans that continued use of vocals would lead to a three-step process that begins with the interruption. of the match and could potentially go as far as the match. being abandoned. Mexico’s two matches, against Costa Rica in the semi-finals and the United States in the title game, were temporarily put on hold after the chant was heard.
The FIFA Disciplinary Committee, however, was in fact reacting to the Olympic qualifiers, against the Dominican Republic and the United States, played in Guadalajara in March. The committee is also examining a similar episode that occurred in May, when Mexico hosted a friendly against Iceland. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. FIFA has not made it clear to the Federation what approach it might take to deal with the problems of CONCACAF Nations League games. It is possible, said de Luisa, that even Liga MX and its clubs could be affected by this issue.
The FMF presented a series of public service videos, including two featuring members of El Tri, to express their commitment to removing this insult from the atmosphere surrounding national team matches.
“Ninety minutes of football. Ninety minutes to support our team. That’s why we show up in a stadium, ”said the narration of a video. “Discriminatory singing is a thing of the past because it is no longer part of our values as a nation. Our identity is our national team. Let’s stop singing that word, so that we can sing a lot more of it.”
This has been a problem for FMF for a long time, although some previous administrations have attempted to dismiss singing as a translation problem and not an insult.
And so there was Threats of penalties at the 2014 World Cup, as reported by the London newspaper The Telegraph. The federation was fined five times by FIFA in 2016.
At the head of the Mexican federation since 2018, de Luisa said he had worked “from day one” to eradicate “any discriminatory act”. The videos shown on Friday were not the first; de Luisa pointed out that a public campaign ahead of Mexico’s friendly last week against Honduras in Atlanta had worked well enough that a crowd of 70,000 (pictured below) did not contribute to the controversy .
The FMF seemed reluctant to admit that the “official matches” mentioned in the FIFA sanction referred to the World Cup home playoffs for the senior men’s team, and de Luisa said the federation would ensure the match. follow-up with FIFA. It will be shocking if they get another answer.
Obviously the Mexican federation knows that anyway. Because the concern apparent in their Friday speech, and their own words throughout, was about El Tri.
“We have to think that we are going to be able to change that. I think that we have accomplished a lot in the last two years and with the help of the media, CONCACAF and the clubs and a large part of the fans who I understood that committing these discriminatory acts gets us nowhere, ”said de Luisa.“ And in the last few days, at a stadium like Atlanta with 70,000 fans, there was no chanting. This is a great example of what we can do.
“So I think the path we’ve taken is very important. We just need to wrap up the last detail. These last few people who still aren’t convinced that singing is discriminatory, and in their heads they think it’s funny, we all have to convince them that this is not the case, and on this day today that has affected us. The campaigns will continue. And I repeat: I don’t think they failed. have not finished producing all the effects that we And this fills us with deep sadness and obviously with deep concern … So we cannot abandon the path.
“It will continue and all efforts will continue until we succeed in changing this.”
Failure is not an option. Because everyone in the El Tri family recognizes what the consequences could be. Maybe those who love this team so much will figure it out.