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It’s time for Mexico to play soccer matches in empty stadiums

After saying it would handle the issue, Mexico now says ‘puto’ is neither offensive nor a slur as fans continue the chant. It’s time for FIFA to clear their stadiums.

Fiji v Mexico: Men's Football - Olympics: Day 2 Photo by Felipe Oliveira/Getty Images

Mexico’s soccer fans simply refuse to stop chanting the gay slur “puto” during matches, and the national football association is paying for it. FIFA has fined Mexico for the chant for a third time, this time to the tune of $31,675, according to Sports Illustrated.

Now the Mexican Soccer Federation is refusing to get it. While Mexico has previously said it will handle the issue with its fans, its now claiming that there’s no issue at all because the offensive slur is neither offensive nor a slur.

It’s time for FIFA to take the next step and bar fans from attending Mexico’s 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.

At a recent talk I gave to high school coaches, athletes and athletic administrators on Cape Cod I was asked what to do about fans yelling offensive anti-LGBT chants at players. The answer is simple: The coaches should stop the game, handle the issue through the referee or school administration; If the offensive comments don’t stop, eject the fan or clear the stands.

No match should be played while any athlete or coach is being taunted for his race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Players and coaches are penalized and ejected from games routinely for unsportsmanlike conduct. If one of those participants harasses someone on the court or the field for their sexual orientation — perceived or real — they face dire consequences.

Fans should be no different. If it’s reasonable to identify the select individuals engaging in the behavior, then remove them from the game. If the number of offenders is too large, stop the game and clear the stands.

If, in the case of Mexico fans, an entire stadium of people persist, ban all fans from all Mexico games for a while. The fans will get the message, or they simply won’t watch their team play anymore.

The Mexico fans clearly have not gotten the very clear message that has been sent by FIFA, the media and even Mexican soccer players.

There is plenty of precedent for this. Just last month Iceland and Ukraine played a match in an empty stadium due to Ukranian fans’ racist behavior. Bulgaria and Hungary faced the same fate in 2013. It’s action FIFA and others have taken many times.

Now it’s time for Mexico to play in front of empty stadiums until its fans stop using the anti-gay “puto” chant.