Mexico to Play World Cup Qualifiers in Empty Stadium After Fans' Anti-Gay Chants

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 18, 2021

Fans of Mexico's soccer team do the wave during a friendly football game between Mexico and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on January 31, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / CHRIS COVATTA        (Photo credit should read CHRIS COVATTA/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo credit should read CHRIS COVATTA/AFP via Getty Images

FIFA announced Friday that the Mexico men's national soccer team will have to play two home World Cup qualifiers without fans as punishment for fans engaging in anti-gay chants.

Henry Bushnell tweeted FIFA's statement, which noted that the chants occurred during the March 18 Olympic qualifier against the Dominican Republic and the March 24 Olympic qualifier against the United States:

Henry Bushnell @HenryBushnell

FIFA statement makes it official: <br><br>Mexico will have to play two World Cup qualifiers in empty stadiums as punishment for homophobic chants pic.twitter.com/eYUlm5AWRD

It was also announced by FIFA that it has launched an investigation into alleged anti-gay chants made by Mexican fans during a May 29 friendly against Iceland.

Per Bushnell, some Mexican fans have continued to shout a certain anti-gay slur during goal kicks despite the Mexican soccer federation saying it would crack down on the chants in recent years. 

Grant Wahl of the Futbol with Grant Wahl Podcast pointed out that anti-gay chants among Mexican fans have been a major issue for years, as he retweeted one of his tweets from 2017 at which time he noted Mexico had been cited by FIFA for anti-gay chants eight times in 17 months:

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

It has taken FIFA far too long to finally start taking more serious action against Mexico for its fans' homophobic chants. This tweet is from four years ago. https://t.co/rXSDPiEgTk

Bushnell reported that FIFA may also look into anti-gay chants from Mexican fans during the CONCACAF Nations League tournament earlier this month. Fans were warned both during Mexico's semifinal against Costa Rica and the final against the U.S.

The final of that tournament, which took place in Denver, was also marred by fans throwing cans and other debris at American players, one of which hit Gio Reyna in the head. The United States went on to win the match 3-2.

While further sanctions could be forthcoming depending on the findings in subsequent investigations, Mexico knows for certain its first two home qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup will be played without fans in attendance.

The first of those matches will be against Jamaica in September and the second will be against Canada in October.

Mexico has not missed the World Cup since 1990, and they will look to make it eight World Cup appearances in a row when qualifiers begin this fall.