There have been public service announcements, public pleas, threats, fines, expulsions, and games interrupted by the warning that the action would not be allowed to continue.
Those involved in and in charge of world soccer in general and Mexican soccer in particular have employed almost every device available to prevent fans of Mexico’s men’s national team from shouting the offensive chant that has followed nearly every opposing goal kick during Two decades. .
Given how little impact all these devices have shown in recent years, it gradually became apparent that there were only two methods that carried the weight necessary to suppress the homophobic chants that needed to be eliminated.
- Ban the team from major competitions. (Yes, THAT important competition). This would be a last resort, obviously unfair to players and coaches who are not involved in the misconduct, many of whom have publicly campaigned against it.
- Ban fans from watching major competitions.
FIFA probably took too long to implement this punishment, but at least when they finally reached this lever, it seems they did not do it for some pointless friendly. Mexico will play its first two qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, on September 2 against Jamaica and on October 7 against Canada, behind closed doors.
The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) with a fine of 60,000 Swiss francs and the order to play its next two official home games behind closed doors after the homophobic chants of Mexican fans in the qualifying rounds. of the Olympic Soccer Tournament against the Dominican Republic and the Dominican Republic. The United States played in Guadalajara on March 18 and 24, 2021 respectively. – FIFA statement
By the time El Tri have played four games of the 14 scheduled in the qualifying cycle, they will not have played a single time in front of the large, boisterous crowd that has helped make facing them such an extraordinary challenge for other CONCACAF teams.
This is what it has come to, because it is the only way to stop it. There will be no homophobic chants for two games, at least, and perhaps the message will be considered as a result.
MORE: Explaining the homophobic insult that has Mexico in trouble with FIFA
The Mexican Football Federation knew this was happening on Thursday and organized a press conference outside of Mexico City that was also available to reporters outside the region through a virtual videoconference. And the tone adopted by FMF president Yon de Luisa and head coach Tata Martino made it clear that they recognize that if point 2 has been implemented, number 1 could be very close.
And so on behalf of the Mexican soccer federation, of all our national teams and the clubs that are part of each of our divisions, but above all on behalf of all the fans who want to see our national team competing in the next World Cup in Qatar. Let’s stop. Let’s stop it now, please, “said De Luisa, reading a prepared statement.” Fucking, apart from being discriminatory and far from identifying ourselves as the great hobby that we are, is distancing us from our team. For some who think it’s funny, I’m here today to tell you That’s not it. Because you’re keeping the fans away from the stadium. And it keeps us away from our national team. Please, let’s stop it. Let’s stop it now.
“I repeat that we have a lot to do. We cannot allow these sanctions to continue adding up. And today, we see the first major sanction, and it can get a lot worse.”
The possibility that the fans weren’t the only group staying out of the stadium was an obvious concern for Martino.
“That we cannot be together in a qualifier and we can even lose an international competition with all the important players. [things] that are ahead of us, “he told reporters. “I think the fans are very supportive, and the players feel the support of our fans and ask them to focus on the national team, our players and the support they feel when the fans of the national team are behind their team.
“We are very concerned and we all express it. We are concerned about what is going to come and the penalties that we could suffer and, fundamentally, because we do not want to get away from our fans. I think that any team that wants to do important things depends on its players, its team and the support of its fans. I invite people to reflect on this and I invite them to focus and exclusively support the Mexican national team. “
Ahead of CONCACAF Nations League games in Denver earlier this month, regional federation officials warned fans that continued use of the chant would lead to a three-step process that begins with the interruption of play. and that could potentially reach the game. being abandoned. Both Mexico games, against Costa Rica in the semifinals and the United States in the title game, were temporarily halted after the chant was heard.
The FIFA disciplinary committee, however, was actually reacting to the Olympic qualifiers, against the Dominican Republic and the United States, played in Guadalajara in March. The committee is also investigating a similar episode that occurred in May, when Mexico held a friendly against Iceland. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. FIFA has not made it clear to the Federation what approach it could take to problems in CONCACAF Nations League games. It is possible, De Luisa said, that even Liga MX and its clubs could be affected by this problem.
FMF presented a series of public service videos, two of them featuring members of El Tri, to express their commitment to removing this insult from the environment surrounding national team games.
“Ninety minutes of football. Ninety minutes supporting our team. That’s why we show up at a stadium,” read a video narration. “Discriminatory singing is in the past because it is no longer part of our values as a nation. Our identity is our national team. Let’s stop singing that word, so we can sing many more.”
This has been a problem for FMF for a long time, although some previous administrations tried to dismiss the chant as a translation problem and not as an insult.
And so there were threats of penalties in the 2014 World Cup, according to the London newspaper The Telegraph. The federation was fined five times by FIFA in 2016.
In the position at the head of the Mexican federation since 2018, de Luisa said that she has worked “from day one” to eradicate “any discriminatory act.” The videos presented on Friday weren’t the first; de Luisa noted that a public campaign before Mexico’s friendly last week against Honduras in Atlanta worked well enough that a crowd of 70,000 (pictured below) did not contribute to this controversy.
The FMF did not seem eager to admit that the “official matches” mentioned in the FIFA sanction referred to the World Cup qualifiers at home for the senior men’s team, and De Luisa said the federation would follow up with the FIFA. It will be shocking if they get any other answers.
It is obvious that the Mexican federation knows it, regardless. Because the apparent concern in his speech on Friday, and his own words throughout, was for El Tri.
“We have to think that we are going to be able to change this. I think we have achieved a lot in the last two years and with the help of the media, CONCACAF and the clubs and a large part of the fans that we have understood that committing these discriminatory acts does not take us to nothing good, “he said of Luisa.” And just in the last few days, in a stadium like Atlanta with 70,000 fans, there were no chants. This is a great example of what we can do.
“So I think the path we have taken is very important. We just have to close the last detail. These last people who are not yet convinced that singing is discriminatory, and in their head they think it is fun, we all have to convince them of no, and today it has affected us. The campaigns are going to continue. And I repeat: I do not think they have failed. They have not finished producing all the effects that we are and this fills us with deep sadness and clearly a deep concern … That’s why we can’t give up on the road.
“This will continue and all efforts will continue until we succeed in changing this.”
Failure is not an option. Because everyone within the El Tri family recognizes what the consequences could be. Perhaps those who love this team so much will come to understand it.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.