Mexico will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, along with the United States and Canada, even as Mexico fans refuse to stop chanting the anti-gay homophobic “puto” chant during soccer matches.
Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey will all be used to host the games in 2026.
FIFA is virtually guaranteeing that fans and athletes will be subjected to widespread homophobic chanting by the host-country fans in Mexico. For years FIFA has worked with various organizing bodies to stop Mexico fans from chanting the gay slur. They have fined Mexico for the chants, created public service announcements with Mexico players asking the fans to stop, even forced Mexico to play in empty stadiums.
Yet the fans flat-out refuse to stop. At the World Cup in Qatar, the chant was present in at least two of the three Mexico matches, and it was very loud during their final match against Saudi Arabia.
Yes, even in matches thousands of miles and a 20-hour flight away from Mexico City, the Mexico fans insisted on chanting the homophobic slur.
With the 2026 World Cup actually in Mexico? On their home turf?
I’ll give it about a 0.2% chance.
The hands of Canadian Soccer and US Soccer — despite its strong outward support of the LGBT community — are not clean on this. These two organizations could have put forward a bid to host the matches all north of the Rio Grande. In fact, early on in the bid process, Canada and Mexico had competing bids. At some point in 2016, the three associations decided to put together a joint bid.
By that time, the chant was well-reported by Outsports. During the 2014 World Cup, Mexico fans hurled the slur at opposing teams. FIFA, as well as the leaders in all three North American countries, knew this was becoming an issue.
Not only was it clear the puto chant wasn’t going away in Mexican soccer, but it had already seeped into NFL games hosted in Mexico and across the border to Major League Soccer and other soccer matches in the United States.
When the United States and Canada chose to team up with Mexico for the host bid, the chant was expanding. Heck, Mexico fans chanted the slur against Team USA at a match in the United States.
To be sure, Mexico residents likely won’t be the most-present at all of the matches. Fans of many of the World Cup countries travel well, and when Argentina plays Australia in a group stage match, you can bet those two countries will be most-represented.
Still, Mexico fans have made it clear they want to give a big middle finger to FIFA and the people trying to stop them from their beloved homophobic chant.
As FIFA investigates the two World Cup matches in Qatar, and the fans’ chanting of “puto,” there are only a couple places they can go with the effective reprimand heading into 2026.
One is to force Mexico to play in more empty stadiums over the next few years. That is the prescribed response in FIFA’s guidelines.
After that, Mexico should start losing points toward a World Cup berth for their team. Except for 2026, FIFA has already said Mexico doesn’t need to qualify: As a host country, they are already in the tournament.
And with the tournament expanding from 36 to 48 teams in 2026, chances are losing a point or two wouldn’t matter for Mexico, which has qualified for the last eight World Cups.
Sadly, these are both likely ineffective, though they are steps FIFA will need to take, even if the loss of points doesn’t affect the team until 2030.
That leaves FIFA with three remaining options.
First would be to have Mexico play its 2026 World Cup matches in empty stadiums. If the fans won’t abide by the rules, let them watch from home. Though given FIFA’s addiction to money, it’s hard to believe they’d go this route with Mexico playing World Cup matches in North America.
Second would be to remove Mexico as a host. Again, not going to happen.
The last option would be to bar Mexico from competing in the 2026 World Cup that it hosts. I advocated for barring Russia from competing in its own 2014 Winter Olympics, and it seems this option may be the best of all three. Though it could create logistical nightmares for the matches being hosted in Mexico — the fans would find this option the most drastic and could retaliate — it should be on the table.
Short of these harsh measures, FIFA is nearing the end of its list of responses to stop the homophobic “puto” chant before the next World Cup. They’ve got three-and-a-half years to figure it out.
The United States Soccer Federation and the Canadian Soccer Association should equally be answering questions about this, since they were instrumental in creating this impending mess.
If more-drastic measures aren’t taken, it will be confirmation of what most people have been saying for years: FIFA doesn’t give a crap about the LGBT community. Given they granted Qatar — which imprisons people for being gay — the right to host the World Cup, it’s hard to believe they’ll do much of substance here.