World Cup: FIFA Will Not Punish Mexico for Fans' Homophobic Chant

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was also the target of homophobic chanting at this World Cup.

The soccer governing body has decided not to take disciplinary action against the Mexican team after it received complaints that supporters chanted gay slurs during a World Cup match.

World soccer governing body FIFA has said it won't punish the Mexican national soccer team after its supporters were heard regularly chanting a homophobic slur at one of its matches during the World Cup.

FIFA received a complaint from European anti-discrimination group Football Against Racism Europe after Mexico's opening match against Cameroon on June 13. The complaint concerned Mexican fans who were heard chanting the gay slur whenever Cameroon's goalkeeper kicked the ball upfield.

But following an investigation, FIFA said it would not be taking disciplinary action.

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“The FIFA disciplinary committee has decided that the incident in question is not considered insulting in this specific context,” FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer told reporters at a briefing in Rio de Janeiro. “All charges against the Mexican FA [football association] have been dismissed.”

Mexico coach Miguel Hererra had defended the use of the term, saying it’s used by fans to put pressure on opposing teams.

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Mexico itself was the target of similar homophobic chants in its match against Brazil. The Fare network, which is monitoring the tournament for discriminatory behavior, reported to FIFA that Brazil supporters chanted the word “puto” — which can mean male prostitute and be used as a gay slur in Spanish and Portuguese — at Mexico's star goalie Guillermo Ochoa. FIFA has also opened disciplinary proceedings against Brazil, though, given the Mexico decision, it is unlikely Brazil will be penalized.

Despite promoting the World Cup as a celebration of tolerance and “fair play,” this year's tournament has been plagued by defamatory chants and actions by small groups of fans. Russia and Croatia may face sanctions over neo-Nazi banners spotted among their fans during the teams' opening matches, and fans of several European teams, including Germany, France and Belgium, were spotted wearing blackface.

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In the most dramatic incident, a neo-Nazi sympathizer stormed onto the field during Germany's match against Ghana on Saturday. Scrawled across his bare chest and back were pro-Nazi messages including “HH,” signifying "Heil Hitler," and “SS,” in reference to the Nazi paramilitary unit.

FIFA has said it will investigate all allegations of discriminatory behavior at the World Cup. It is ultimately the national soccer associations that FIFA holds responsible for their fans' behavior inside stadiums. If FIFA takes action, it can dock a national side points or implement fines or other sanctions.

Twitter: @sroxborough