Saturday, June 15, 2024

Soccer team must play 2 games to empty stands as penalty for fans’ chant

The Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF) has a problem: its fans keep chanting a slur widely seen as anti-gay at opposing teams.

Now FIFA, the international body that governs soccer, has sanctioned the Mexican national team after the chant, “Eh, puto!” was heard during two of Mexico’s Olympic qualifying tournament games. As a consequence, the Mexican team will have to play two home games in empty stadiums and the FMF will have to pay a fine of 60,000 Swiss francs (roughly US $65,000).

“In the name of the FMF, of the players, of the MX League, of the clubs and all the teams: let’s stop. Let’s please stop yelling puto … although many think it is funny, it is not,” said FMF president Yon de Luisa at a press conference after the sanctions were announced.

The sanctions are a result of the chant being shouted during Olympic qualifying games against the United States and the Dominican Republic. De Luisa said FIFA is also investigating whether the chant was heard in a May friendly match that Mexico played against Iceland.

With the most recent sanctions, Mexico entered phase 2 of FIFA’s process for punishing discriminatory behavior. The first phase is a monetary fine and the second is one or more matches closed to the public. If the chants continue, Mexico will face phase 3: deduction of points in an official tournament.

The fourth phase is elimination from the tournament.

“We invite our fans to reflect and understand once and for all the significance and impact of this kind of attitude. They are magnificent when it’s time to cheer the team on, but we beg that they focus only on the [Mexican] team,” said Gerardo Martino, technical director of El Tri, as the national team is known. “We are very worried … about what is coming, about the sanctions we could suffer.”

The two empty-stadium games are expected to be World Cup qualifying matches against Jamaica and Canada in September and October at Mexico City’s Aztec Stadium.

With reports from El Economista

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