Mexico’s football association is appealing a fine over homophobic chants, claiming it is not offensive.

The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) has been hit with a $30,000 fine for failing to challenge fans chanting homophobic slurs during international matches.

The country’s fans frequently scream the anti-gay slur “puto”, a derogatory word for a male prostitute or gay man.

It is the third time the FMF has faced such action – and could lead to the Mexican national team being forced to play their upcoming World Cup Qualifier match to an empty stadium, behind closed doors.

However, the FMF has launched an appeal against the decision – which also saw Honduras, El Salvador, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Italy and Albania handed fines.

Guillermo Cantu, secretary general of Mexico’s football federation, told reporters: “We will appeal the sanction because we do not agree with the connotation that FIFA has given to the chant”.

His claim is surprising, given the FMF launched their own campaign earlier this year trying to stop fans from using the homophobic chant.

The ‘Embraced by Soccer’ campaign featured football stars Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Rafael Marquez and Andres Guardado telling fans to avoid discriminatory behaviour.

At the time, Cantu said: “For us, as a federation, this is a chant that we do not like. We have recognised that some people have interpreted it as a homophobic exclamation.

“We do think there are better ways of expressing enthusiasm and even messing with the opponent to put pressure on him.”

Mexico faced threats of losing points in 2014 after the same slur was used during a game against Cameroon.

In January, Mexico was among six South American countries to receive a fine from FIFA for homophobic chants during World Cup matches.

Throughout last summer’s World Cup, supporters filled Brazil’s stadiums with chants of “iPuto!”during their team’s matches, most of which were broadcast worldwide.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has previously defended supporters, saying the use of the word is “not that bad.”

He insisted: “We’re with our fans. It’s something they do to pressure the opposing goalkeeper.”