Mexico has been handed a fine by FIFA for homophobic chanting at the World Cup in Russia.
The footballing body has vowed to take a tough tolerance stance to anti-LGBT discrimination at the tournament, despite the World Cup being held in a host country with an anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law and where homophobic sentiment is rife.
It had launched a probe after the homophobic chant “puto” – an anti-gay epithet equivalent to “faggot” or “male prostitute” – was used by Mexico fans at the team’s match against Germany on Sunday (June 17).
In a statement, FIFA confirmed that it had issued a fine over the conduct.
“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Mexican Football Federation with a fine of CHF 10,000 ($10,030 USD) for the misconduct of a group of Mexican fans in relation to discriminatory and insulting chants during the first half of the 2018 FIFA World Cup match played between Germany and Mexico.”
It cited article 67 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, which states that the team can be found “liable for improper conduct among spectators.”
Mexico striker Javier Hernandez has urged the team’s fans to stop chanting at further matches, after FIFA threatened further action if the issue continues.
He said: “To all Mexican fans in the stadiums, don’t shout ‘pu–. Let’s not risk another sanction.”
The ban on the word is controversial, as some football fans have attempted to argue that it is not intended to be a homophobic chant – but LGBT rights groups insist that it constitutes anti-gay hate speech.
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FIFA has previously issued fines to Argentina, Brazil and Mexico for homophobic chants by fans at qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.
However, the fines have been criticised for making little impact. Mexico has been fined no less than eight times over homophobic chanting with no real change.
The size of the fine is also smaller than that handed out to the English football association after players flouted rules to wear Armistice Day poppies.
Last year FIFA implemented a new procedure giving referees the authority to abandon matches if homophobic chants do not cease.
Under the new procedure, referees will have the authority to pause the match, with a tannoy announcement warning fans against discriminatory language.
If it does not cease, the match can be suspended or even abandoned entirely.
However the procedure was not deployed at the Mexico v Germany match.
Mexico is set to play South Korea on June 23, followed by Sweden on June 27.
After the team’s 1-0 victory over Germany, Mexico is tipped to make it through the group stages of the tournament.