Mexico to play two World Cup qualifying games in empty stadiums as FIFA punishment for derogatory chants

FIFA on Friday sanctioned the Mexico football federation (FMF) for homophobic chants from supporters during Olympic qualifying matches for the men’s team. As punishment, El Tri will have to play the first two matches of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in an empty stadium.

The incidents in question come from one match against the Dominican Republic on March 18 and another against the United States on March 24 in Guadalajara. In addition to the two-match spectator ban, FMF will be fined $65,000.

Mexican federation president Yon de Luisa, who will be involved in organizing the North American World Cup in 2026 that will take place in the United States, Canada and Mexico, said the following in a press conference with head coach of the senior team Tata Martino:

“The risk of the 2026 World Cup exists if this does not stop now,” de Luisa said. “How can we host a World Cup if we are going to have our stadiums empty?

“If we don’t stop this now, the effect it can have on the football industry in México can be devastating. I hope this is the first and last sanction that FIFA imposes.”  

The homophobic chants in question stem from a cheer that Mexican supporters make when an opposing goalkeeper prepares to take a goal kick. It has been a staple of the supporters’ section, which has come under fire over the last decade or so as the phrase translates to a male prostitute. The first time that the Mexican FA was officially fined for the chant was in 2018, during a World Cup match against Germany. A year later in June FIFA announced the following disciplinary sanctions possible if the chant continued: 

  • Fines
  • Dispute of one or more games behind closed doors
  • Deduction of points or forfeit game
  • Exclusion from a competition or tournament
  • Relegation of one category, in club competition

Most recently, the Concacaf Nations League final between Mexico and the United States had to be stopped in response to the homophobic chant being used. That was on June 3, a match where the United States won 3-2, and Giovanni Reyna was struck in the head by an object thrown from the stands. De Luisa revealed that the federation is also under FIFA investigation for a friendly against Iceland in late May before the Nations League resumed. 

“We are awaiting information from FIFA, we know that the Iceland game has also been investigated, de Luisa said. “What is very clear that any activity of our national team where the discriminatory act exists, will be sanctioned.” 

The two matches that Mexico will play without fans are against Jamaica in September, and Canada in October — both of which are World Cup qualifiers. All Mexico road games from Concacaf Qualifiers will be available to stream on Paramount+.

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