The Mexican Football Federation announced this week fans who are caught chanting anti-gay slurs at matches will be banned from stadiums for five years. The new mandate is the federation’s toughest crackdown on the homophobic chants that keep marring matches in Mexico.
Better late than never.
“These measures are based on four pillars and will be applied rigorously in all home games organized by the Mexican Football Federation,” FMF president Yon de Luisa said in a statement.
For years, Mexico fans have chanted the word “puto” with impunity. The slur, which roughly translates to “male prostitute” in colloquial Spanish, is often shouted at opposing players.
FIFA disciplined Mexico fans twice last year for their homophobic language. In August, FIFA banned fans from one of the national team’s upcoming matches. When they were allowed back last fall, they chanted the slur again.
That prompted FIFA to ban fans from the men’s national team’s next two matches against Costa Rica (Jan. 30) and Panama (Feb. 2). But those bans aren’t standing in light of FMF’s new policy.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport will allow FMF to reopen the Estadio Azteca (Mexico’s home stadium) for those two matches. Capacity will be limited to 2,000 to test out the new policy.
History shows that a heavy-handed approach might be the only way to squash these chants, provided FMF enforces its own rules. It’s clear that minor sanctions, or threats of discipline, haven’t stopped Mexico fans. They’ve taken their homophobia on the road, directing the “puto” chant towards players on the U.S. men’s national team during the CONCACAF Nations League final last spring.
The match took place at Mile High Stadium in Denver. It wasn’t the first time Mexico fans brought the deplorable chant onto U.S. soil.
A lawsuit brought by gay and straight fans over the repeated use of the homophobic “puto” chant during the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Soldier Field in Chicago is heading to federal court. The plaintiffs allege the management and ownership of Soldier Field failed to properly protect LGBTQ fans from the taunt.
If they prevail, it will set the legal precedent that U.S. venues can be held legally accountable if they fail to stop anti-gay chants. That would be a pretty big deterrent.
We’ll see if FMF’s new policy accomplishes the same thing.