The next two World Cup qualifying home matches for the Mexico team will be played before an empty stadium in a disciplinary move taken against unruly fans.
The decision was made by Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) after supporters of the Mexican national team chanted homophobic slurs at the opposing team.
The incidents in question occurred in October when Mexico played games against Canada and Honduras, and a disciplinary review came out on Monday, November 1, which found the team guilty of “Discrimination (discriminatory behaviour by supporters)”.
As well as the two-game ban on fans, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) also faced a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs (around €94,500).
Despite FIFA’s efforts to make the football matches a safe environment for the players and LGBTQ+ supporters, this is not the first time the FMF has faced penalisation for disruptive homophobic fans.
In June, they faced the same levy of two fan-free matches, although this was later reduced to just one game before an empty stadium, which was played in September against Jamaica. The FMF was also fined on this occasion.
The game against Jamaica took place in Mexico city’s own Azteca Stadium and is estimated to have lost the FMF millions of dollars in revenue on the empty 87,000-seat arena.
FMF president Yon De Luisa told Yahoo Sports in May that the repeated homophobic slur refers to “gay men in a derogatory way”, and he promised to get the situation under control so that the events wouldn’t be repeated.
Evidently, the problem persisted regardless of the FMF’s well-intended promises. In June, just a month later, a CONCACAF game between Mexico and the USA at Empower Field in Denver, Colorado, was stopped for three minutes by disorderly fans chanting anti-gay slurs and pelting the field with objects, striking players from both teams.
The Mexico team will host their next two games against Costa Rica on January 30 and Panama on February 2, against the gloomy backdrop of an empty stadium.
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