Fans found making anti-gay chants at Mexican soccer matches will be banned from stadiums for five years, the president of the country's governing body said Monday.
The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) has struggled to reduce the number of anti-gay chants by fans when an opposing goalkeeper takes a goal kick.
FIFA, soccer's international soccer governing body, has fined FMF and forced some matches to be played behind closed doors due to the unruly fan behavior. FIFA officials also warned that the chant potentially could cost Mexico a trip to the 2022 World Cup and co-hosting duties for the 2026 World Cup, NBC News reported.
FMF President Yon de Luisa said Monday that fans making anti-gay chants will be given five-year stadium bans, ESPN reported.
"These measures are based on four pillars and will be applied rigorously in all home games organized by the Mexican Football Federation," de Luisa said.
The FMF will rely on four new measures to be tested in Mexico's next two World Cup qualifiers — at home against Costa Rica on Jan. 30, and Panama on Feb. 2. The measures include online ticket registration, a push for more positive fan experiences, heightened stadium security and the five-year ban, ESPN reported.
De Luisa also announced that the international Court of Arbitration for Sport will allow FMF to reopen the Estadio Azteca, which had been shut down due to previous instances of the anti-gay chant.
However, capacity at Estadio Azteca will be limited to 2,000 for the coming matches in order to test the new measures.
FIFA sanctioned Mexico's men’s national soccer team on Nov. 1 for repeated use of the Spanish word "puto," the male form of "puta," meaning prostitute. The word translates to a homophobic slur that is often yelled at gay men, NBC News reported.
The sanctions resulted in the team being forced to play their next two World Cup qualifying home games in empty stadiums, and the Mexican Football Federation was fined about $109,000, NBC News said.
Mexico's fans have gotten loud when the opposing goalkeeper lines up for a goal kick and shout the derogatory word in unison as the keeper kicks the ball.
The chant has plagued Mexico’s most popular sport for decades. During 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the FMF was fined 11 times because of the repeated use of the chant.
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