Mexico’s Latest Attempt To Halt Homophobic Chant Includes 5-Year Bans

The Mexican Football Federation is once again asking its fans to not yell discriminatory chants at soccer matches. This time it’s threatening a five-year ban to anyone who does not comply.

FMF president Yon de Luisa announced new plans to stamp out the homophobic “puto” chant from matches on Monday, including lengthy bans to anyone caught yelling the homophobic word at Mexico national team matches. 

Mexico has long struggled with its supporters yelling “puto” at opposing goalkeepers as they take goal kicks. The word is homophobic slang, which is not allowed under FIFA regulations. Previous attempts to stop the chant, initiated in 2019, have not been enough, as FIFA forced Mexico to play its first home World Cup qualifier behind closed doors (after the FMF tried to make its women’s team serve the punishment).

Mexico was scheduled to hold two more matches without fans in the upcoming World Cup qualifying window against Costa Rica (Jan. 30) and Panama (Feb. 2). With Monday’s announcement, the FMF said it worked out a deal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport to allow 2,000 fans for those matches, though tickets will not be made available to the public. 

The FMF unveiled a four-pillar approach to halting the use of the homophobic chant, starting with requiring fans to register online to obtain a QR code that will be required along with an ID to enter stadiums. Once at a match, the FMF said stadiums will promote a healthy fan experience. Third, security at matches will be better trained to identify and remove anyone who engages in any act of discrimination, including the chant. Finally, anyone who is removed for a discriminatory act will be handed a five-year ban from attending national team matches. 

“With these measures, added to the previous efforts, which we will continue to carry out, we seek to end discriminatory acts, to stop affecting our national team and to punish the responsible people and not the majority of our fans, who already understood that the cry of ‘puto’ does nothing but affect us all,” de Luisa said in a news release. “We cannot tolerate discriminatory acts, we cannot play in empty stadiums, we cannot put the soccer authorities at risk of taking away points or affecting our sports performance. We invite our great fans, who want to support the national team, to adopt these measures that allow us to count on their support in all the games.”

Will these new measures work? It’s hard to say considering the homophobic chants keep happening. The chant was heard in Mexico’s only two home 2022 World Cup qualifiers with fans, which led to the stadium ban for the Costa Rica and Panama matches. 

Mexico Homophobic Chant

The Mexico-Canada World Cup qualifier in October was briefly suspended after the homophobic chant was heard at Azteca Stadium. Photo: Getty Images.

It seems fairly evident the FMF has instituted these latest changes to make sure it isn’t forced to play the United States behind closed doors when the USMNT visits Estadio Azteca on March 24 in World Cup qualifying. The match could be the final meaningful World Cup qualifier between the two rivals, as both will qualify automatically for 2026 as co-hosts and from 2030 and beyond the World Cup is expanding, which will make the qualifying process easier for both nations. 

Mexico will play four of its final six World Cup qualifiers at home. Whether or not El Tri is able to have a home field advantage will depend on whether these new rules prevent the homophobic chant from proliferating at its stadiums. 

Interestingly, the FMF tweeted the announcement of the changes on its Spanish-language Twitter account but not on its English-language account, which instead had a tweet about MLK Day. I don’t think Martin Luther King Jr. would have approved with the languid pace at which the FMF is attempting to eradicate the homophobic chant from its matches.

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