Mexico football fans have finally managed to make it through an entire match without chanting a homophobic slur.
It seemed spectators had finally got the message as Wednesday’s (16 July) CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Guatemala played out without a single slur – a welcome change after ugly scenes at previous games.
Fans’ past behaviour had Mexico on thin ice, with FIFA ordering two World Cup qualifier matches to be played in an empty stadium and the Mexican soccer federation (FMF) being fined $65,000.
As the national team faced the prospect of being ejected from future tournaments, players pleaded for the chant to stop, warning: “Because of one word, we could all be silenced”.
That word is “p**o”, a homophobic slur that’s frequently screamed from the stands whenever the opposing goalkeeper makes a goal kick.
There’s been vigorous debate over whether the chant is derogatory since the word can have many meanings in Spanish, but the FMF finally acknowledged it as homophobic in 2019 and has been trying to crack down ever since.
FIFA’s scrutiny forced them to step up their efforts in the latest CONCACAF tournament, but even with the eyes of the global football community on them, Mexican fans were loath to give up their offensive chant.
They were still screaming it in last week’s match against Trinidad and Tobago which forced the referee to stop play in the 86th minute and again in the 96th minute.
Players on the pitch desperately begged fans to stop, making placating gestures to the crowd as officials threatened to abandon the game altogether.
Fortunately, Wednesday’s match reportedly had a more “jovial” atmosphere with no homophobic chanting in sight – though the fact that Mexico easily won 3-0 may have helped.
“Future matches and stadiums will bring a unique crowd and situation every time,” commented sports reporter Megan Swanick for My San Antonio.
“Failures or controversy on the grass below might inspire sections of the stands to go rogue. With federations keeping a heightened eye on Mexico’s goalkeeper chant, escalation in censure could be likely.
“The coming weeks across America’s south has much more to reveal yet about the future for Mexico’s fans.”