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Mexico's team banning fans at World Cup qualifiers after anti-gay chant
Mexico's national team will play its first two World Cup qualifying home matches without fans after spectators yelled an anti-gay chant in March during the pre-Olympic tournament in Guadalajara.
The team's matches against Jamaica on Sept. 2 and Canada on Oct. 7 will be played without spectators in the stands, the Mexican Soccer Federation announced on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The federation was also fined approximately $65,000 by FIFA, after an investigation by the soccer governing body.
"What for some seemed to be fun, I have news for you. It isn't," Yon de Luisa, the president of the Mexican federation, said at a conference, according to the Times.
Luisa pleaded with fans to "stop now."
"Because of it we're kept out of the stadium and kept away from our national team. Please stop. Stop now," he said.
The incidents in question were during games against the U.S. and Dominican Republic, according to FIFA.
"The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Mexican Football Association (FMF) with a fine of CHF 60,000 and an order to play its two upcoming official home matches behind closed doors following homophobic chants by Mexican fans at the Olympic Football Tournament qualifiers against Dominican Republic and the USA played in Guadalajara on 18 and 24 March 2021 respectively," FIFA said in a statement to The Hill.
FIFA, according to the Times, is still probing the use of the anti-gay chant during four recent games in the U.S. Three of those matches were stopped by officials because of the behavior of the spectators.
FIFA confirmed to The Hill that the disciplinary committee "opened separate proceedings against the FMF [Mexican Football Association] in relation to homophobic chants by Mexican fans at their team's friendly match against Iceland played in Arlington, Texas, on 29 May 2021."
The Mexican Soccer Federation, according to FIFA, "has been notified of both decisions."
Luisa, during the press conference on Friday, looked ahead to the 2026 World Cup as a way to encourage fans to refrain from offensive chants.
"The risk of the 2026 World Cup exists if this does not stop now. How can we host a World Cup if we are going to have our stadiums empty?" he said.
Updated Monday at 4:50 p.m.