Albania fined over firecrackers, Latam teams for homophobic chants

ZURICH (Reuters) - Albania have been fined 100,000 Swiss francs (78,427.17 pounds) after their fans disrupted their World Cup qualifier away to Italy last month by letting off firecrackers, FIFA said on Thursday.

The organisation also punished Argentina, Mexico and Brazil for their fans' homophobic chants - sign of a growing crackdown on the insults often hurled at opposing goalkeepers.

Albania supporters interrupted play for nearly 10 minutes during the second half of their match in Palermo, forcing the referee to take the teams off the pitch.

During the first half, Italy's Daniele De Rossi also had to wait to take a penalty after two firecrackers landed in the area.

Italy, who won 2-0, were also fined 15,000 Swiss francs, for "improper conduct among spectators (letting off incendiary devices)," soccer's governing body said.

Mexico was fined 10,000 Swiss francs for homophobic chants during their game at home to Costa Rica - the eighth time they have been punished for the offence in their World Cup campaign.

Brazil were fined 35,000 Swiss francs for homophobic chanting by fans in the game against Paraguay, while Argentina were fined 20,000 Swiss francs for the same offence against Chile.

FIFA's disciplinary committee has changed its stance on the matter since the 2014 World Cup when it ruled there would be no punishment for Mexico's FA after fans chanted the word "puto", or "faggot" in Spanish, at opposition goalkeepers.

Last year, some of the Mexican players took part in a campaign to discourage the slurs.

FIFA uses specialist observers in the crowd to help identify discriminatory behaviour by fans at matches.

In other incidents, Iran were fined 50,000 Swiss francs over the "use of pyrotechnics among supporters and an overcrowded stadium" as well as the "non-use of FIFA branding items." during their 1-0 win over China at Tehran's Azadi stadium.

There were also fines for Bosnia (35,000 Swiss francs), Poland (17,500 Swiss francs) and Montenegro (15,000 Swiss francs) for various incidents involving the use of pyrotechnics by fans during matches last month.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne)