The Mexican soccer federation and regional administration CONCACAF are making efforts to eradicate a homophobic chant employed by a segment of Mexican soccer fans, but the mantra has resurfaced during the 2021 Gold Cup. The referee twice stopped the A match between Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago due to the homophobic chant. Stopping a match is a component of a three-step protocol established by FIFA in 2019 to deal with homophobic and racist behavior by crowds at matches worldwide. The practice is believed to possess started within the early 2000s. Mexican national team supporters shout a Spanish-language homophobic slur (“p—,” which roughly translates to “gay prostitute”) when an opposing goalkeeper puts the ball into play on a goal kick. the mantra was supposedly intended to intimidate the ‘keeper and therefore the opposing team, but the sport’s authorities are working for several years to kill its use.
The chant gained worldwide notoriety during the 2014 World Cup, and although condemnation of the mantra grew wider, it returned four years later at the 2018 World Cup during Mexico’s victory over Germany. Mexico’s soccer federation has been fined on multiple occasions by FIFA — quite 15 times over the years, by one count — and therefore the punishments are only escalating. FIFA’s latest sanction last June included ordering two official home matches to be played behind closed doors. Mexican soccer officials, who are using every opportunity and means to appeal to fans to refrain from using the mantra, fear that future discipline could include a points deduction or maybe expulsion from official competitions.
The efforts to vary fan behavior have increased in recent months with marketing campaigns, news conference appeals, video spots, stadium signage, and messages from players broadcast on TV, played on stadium video boards and delivered live before kickoff. Although progress has been made — Mexico played three matches before the Gold Cup without incident — the mantra has still reared its head from time to time, including last at the Gold Cup.
“It worries everyone, in fact, it’s getting to worry us,” Mexico manager Tata Martino said July 13 when asked whether he’s concerned about the mantra and its consequences. “I think it’s impossible to possess more messages and campaigns than what the [Mexican] federation has already done. Now it’s on the people [fans]. The request for this to not happen again will continue, but the ball is certainly in someone else’s court.” Mexico’s opening match within the Gold Cup required the referee to implement Step 1 of the protocol after the mantra was heard among fans toward the top of the sport. within the wake of that incident, CONCACAF issued an immediate and pointed public statement expressing its disappointment in fans who used the homophobic slur within the face of each appeal made against it.