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Mexico facing possible sanctions over homophobic slurs in US loss

Mexico face the threat of more footballing sanctions after fans chanting an anti-gay slur disrupted Sunday’s CONCACAF Nations League final defeat to the United States.

For the second Nations League tournament running, Mexico’s clash with rivals the USA was halted by match officials after homophobic chants rang around the AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Fans yelled “puto” — a homophobic slur – when United States goalkeeper Matt Turner took goalkicks near the end of Mexico’s 2-0 defeat.

Referee Drew Fischer stopped play twice, for several minutes, before the game was finally completed. 

The “puto” slur means male prostitute but in Mexican Spanish it roughly translates as “faggot,” and is widely used to insult someone’s masculinity.

The chant has long been a problem for Mexico’s Football Federation who have been fined  several times and who have repeatedly urged supporters to stop the practice.

CONCACAF, the regional governing body for football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, condemned the latest case of the chants which come as Mexico, the United States and Canada prepare to host the 2026 World Cup.

“CONCACAF condemns the discriminatory chanting in the final minutes of the Nations League Final between Mexico and the United States men’s national teams,” CONCACAF said in a statement.

“It is extremely disappointing that this matter continues to be an issue at some matches, particularly in the context of the next two years presenting such a tremendous opportunity to grow the sport in our region.”

Mexico football authorities have been fined a total of more than $650,000 over the years in over a dozen separate fines due to fans using the chant. Mexico was also ordered by FIFA to play two games without fans during qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup because of the chants.

The repeated sanctions have done little to eradicate the problem however, as the latest case on Sunday underscored. 

Critics say the problem will only be tackled effectively if Mexico is docked points or barred from competitions.

Mexico was fined $114,000 by FIFA after fans used the chant during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a sanction that Mexico authorities have challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. 

During last year’s Nations League semi-finals in Las Vegas, Mexico’s defeat to the United States was also halted as fans used the chant once more while objects were hurled onto the field and laser pointers aimed at US goalkeeper Turner. 

The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) has sought to tackle the problem by introducing a system of online ticket registration and QR codes.

For games in Mexico, stadium security has been boosted to target anyone using the chant. Offenders face a five-year ban.

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