Soccer world governing body FIFA has fined the Mexico Football Federation for its fans' use of “discriminatory and insulting chants" during a World Cup game against Germany.
The FIFA disciplinary committee on Wednesday handed down a 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,400) fine for chants of “puto” directed at Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Mexican fans have long shouted the word, homophobic slang for a male sex worker, at opposing teams.
FIFA warned Mexico that if the chants continue at future matches, offending fans could be removed from the stands. FIFA is employing three specialist observers at each World Cup match to report discriminatory behavior by spectators.
This isn't the first time Mexico has been fined for homophobic chants. The Mexican Football Federation was sanctioned 12 times for anti-gay slurs during its World Cup qualifying campaign, receiving warnings for the first two offenses and fines for 10 more.
FIFA has begun to clamp down after complaints it did nothing when “puto” chants were widely heard at Mexico games during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Other Latin American teams, including Argentina and Chile, also have been fined in the past for fans using the slur. Fans argue the term is not anti-gay but simply part of soccer culture in Latin America.
The Mexican team has appealed before for fans to end the chants, with players even releasing a video on the subject in 2016. On Wednesday, Mexico's star striker Javier Hernandez appealed to his country's football fans to stop the homophobic chanting, arguing it could lead to further fines from FIFA.
“To all Mexican fans in the stadiums, don't shout 'pu--'," Hernandez posted on Instagram. "Let's not risk another sanction."
Mexican midfielder Marco Fabian made a similar plea on Twitter, retweeting the Mexico Federation's educational campaign to end the use of the chant, along with this message: "Yes, we all know that it is not an anti-gay slur nor is it insulting. The intent is not to offend and it is meant to be teasing and part of Mexican folklore. But we also know that when we as Mexicans put our minds to something, we accomplish it. And I know that our Mexican fans in Russia will be abstaining from using this chant, correct?
Mexico caused the upset of the World Cup so far by beating defending champions Germany 1-0 in their opening game. The Mexican team looks likely to advance to the second round if it can follow up with a win against South Korea, whom it will play on Saturday.