Mexico City, Jun 18 (EFE).- The head of Mexico’s soccer federation said Friday that if Mexican fans persist in chanting anti-gay slurs at opposing goalkeepers the Aztec nation could be disqualified as a co-host of the 2026 World Cup.
“How can we wish to be a venue for a World Cup if we must have empty stadiums? This must stop right this moment,” FMF chief Yon de Luisa told a press conference hours after FIFA ordered the Mexican national team to play its next two matches behind closed doors as punishment for the fans’ behavior.
FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, awarded the 2026 World Cup to a joint candidacy of the United States, Mexico and Canada.
But Friday’s announcement of the latest sanctions against the FMF in connection with the homophobic heckling warned that failure to curb the behavior could result in Mexico’s exclusion from all FIFA competitions, including the World Cup.
Besides the closed-door sanction, which will be applied to World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and Canada, FIFA levied a fine of 60,000 Swiss francs ($65,000) on the FMF.
The punishment imposed Friday was for incidents during Olympic qualifiers played three months ago in Guadalajara against the US and the Dominican Republic, respectively.
And FIFA suggested that additional sanctions could be forthcoming.
“Additionally, the committee has opened a second disciplinary dossier in relation to the anti-gay chants heard from Mexican fans in a friendly played against Iceland in Arlington, Texas on May 29,” FIFA said.
FIFA’s efforts to amend the behavior of Mexican fans date back to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Under FIFA rules, Mexico could face points-reductions in tournaments and even a complete ban from official international competition if the fans don’t desist.
“This is a critical moment for the national team, if we don’t stop this now, the effect on the soccer industry in Mexico could be devastating,” De Luisa said.
Joining the FMF president in front of reporters was national team coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who praised the fans of “El Tri” for their enthusiasm while asking them to focus exclusively on encouraging the Mexican players and refrain from heckling opponents.
“We’re very worried. We’re worried about what’s coming, about the sanctions that could possibly be next, and because we don’t want to be pulled away from our fans. Any national team that wants to accomplish important things depends on its players and its fans,” the Argentine said. EFE