Mexico's Liga MX to Evict Fans Who Sing Anti-gay Chant

Fans caught shouting homophobic slurs during Liga MX matches will be evicted from the stadium, the Mexican league president announced this week.

A Spanish slur roughly translating to "gay prostitute" has been an unwelcome feature of El Tri games and Liga MX matches for almost two decades.

Normally aimed at the opposition goalkeeper whenever he takes a goal kick, the chant has seemingly grown more and more popular since gaining worldwide notoriety during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

On Wednesday, Liga MX president Mikel Arriola said in a statement that the league would adopt a zero-tolerance approach over homophobic language.

"We are going to take the measure of removing people who are chanting from the stadium, and it sends a message of zero tolerance to people who use such terrible expressions," he said.

The Mexican soccer federation (FMF) has been fined on 15 occasions for anti-gay chants over the last six years and it has made efforts to curb the chant, via media campaigns and PSA videos broadcasted on stadiums' big screens before and during matches.

The pleas to dissuade fans from chanting the slur, however, have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.

FIFA—world's soccer governing body—updated its Disciplinary Code in 2019, introducing a three-step protocol to impose bigger penalties on serial offenders.

Referees Now Have Extensive Powers

The first step consists of stopping the game and warning the fans, while the second gives the referee freedom to suspend the match and order the players back to the locker room. Should the first two steps fail to stop the chant, the referee has the power to declare the match abandoned.

CONCACAF—Central American soccer's governing body—implements the same protocol and on July 10 play was suspended twice during Mexico's opening Gold Cup game against Trinidad and Tobago.

"CONCACAF is extremely disappointed at the discriminatory language chanted by some Mexico fans during their Gold Cup match against Trinidad and Tobago at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, July 10," the federation said in a statement.

"The 'goalkeeper chant' was heard despite a significant CONCACAF anti-discrimination campaign delivered in recent weeks and extensive efforts [by Mexico's soccer federation] to make clear that it is unacceptable."

FMF swiftly condemned the incident and renewed pleas with the fans to stop the chant.

"We strongly reject any discriminatory act or conduct and we are calling on all those involved to stop these types of manifestations on and off the field," it said in a statement.

Just over a month earlier, the referee was forced to halt play for three minutes because of fans shouting homophobic chants during the CONCACAF Nations League final between El Tri and the U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT).

Players Plead With the Fans

Players from both teams pleaded with the fans to stop the chant, before the game resumed.

In March, the chant was heard during Mexico's pre-Olympic qualifying tournament games against the USMNT and the Dominican Republic.

As a result, on June 18 FIFA ruled that El Tri's next two official home games will be played behind closed doors.

Speaking after the punishment was handed out, Mexico head coach Tata Martino said the fans' behavior was detrimental to the team and urged them to stop anti-gay chants.

"I want to call on our fans to reflect on what these attitudes create for us. It pulls our team away from its fans. It means we play in empty stadiums and even that we could miss out on an international competition," he was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"We're very worried. We're worried about what's coming, about the sanctions that could possibly be next, and because we don't want to be pulled away from our fans. Any national team that wants to accomplish important things depends on its players and its fans."

Mexico fans Gold Cup
Mexico fans cheer their team during the Group A match between Mexico and El Salvador in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Cotton Bowl on July 18 in Dallas, Texas. Omar Vega/Getty Images