Mexico fans stubbornly refused to stop their homophobic chanting despite players’ desperate pleas, forcing the latest Concacaf Gold Cup match to be halted twice.
Saturday’s game between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago was marred by fans repeatedly screaming the homophobic slur “p**o,” causing the referee to stop play in the 86th minute and the 96th minute, according to AS.
Concacaf confirmed the match was paused in line with its anti-discrimination protocol, which was explained in a warning message on all overhead screens in the stadium. Had the chants continued the game could have been abandoned altogether, spectators were told.
“I’ve been going to sporting events all my life and have never been more disappointed than I am [now] in my fellow Mexico fans,” tweeted NBCLX host Eric Alvarez after the match.
“The fans have been warned for months if not longer, and there were multiple warnings in the stadium Saturday night and they STILL didn’t stop.”
The match ended in a draw, meaning Trinidad and Tobago did not go through to the next stage. Commenting on Mexican fans’ behaviour, Trinidad and Tobago manager Angus Eve said: “We should’ve gotten the game.”
The slur has already resulted in FIFA ordering two of Mexico’s World Cup qualifier matches to be played without spectators and the Mexican soccer federation (FMF) being fined $65,000.
With the FMF fearing more sanctions if the homophobia continues, the national team has personally called on fans to stop in a desperate bid to get the message across.
“Because of one word, we could all be silenced,” the players said in a video ahead of the game. “A World Cup means a lot to all of us. It is a passion for millions of us. Let’s not let the actions of a few ruin it for all of us.
“If you see someone chanting, say something. Call them out … Cheer all you want, just not that word that will sideline us all.”
Mexican national team sporting director Gerardo Torrado said he worries that the fans’ bigotry could see Mexico excluded from the tournament altogether.
“If we don’t have a chance to participate in the World Cup, that’s going to be awful for everybody – for us, the federation, for the players and for the fans and supporters as well,” he told The Tennessean. “So we need them to continue supporting us, but in a good way.”