Mexico's national soccer team will play its next two World Cup qualifying home matches in an empty stadium because of fans who notoriously chant antigay slurs at opposing players.
Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) revealed the punishment in its most recent disciplinary review, which was released on Monday. It found the Mexican team guilty of "discriminatory behavior by supporters" during games against Canada and Honduras in October. The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) was also fined 100,000 Swiss francs (around $110,000) for the continued behavior of its fans.
This is not the first time homophobic chants from Mexico's fans have caused conflict in the international sporting community. In June, the FMF was fined and ordered to play its next two home matches before empty stadiums, although that punishment was halved to just a single game. (Mexico played in front of an empty stadium at a home game against Jamaica in September.)
Azteca Stadium in Mexico City has a listed seating capacity of over 87,000, making it similar to that of an NFL stadium in the U.S. Loss of fans in attendance has been estimated to cost the FMF millions of dollars in lost revenue.
The slur hurled by Mexican fans at opposing players refers to "gay men in a derogatory way," FMF president Yon De Luisa told Yahoo Sports in May. Despite promises by De Luisa and the FMF to bring homophobic fans under control, the problem persists.
In June, unruly fans briefly halted play at the CONCACAF final between the United States and Mexico at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. Officials stopped the game for three minutes following league anti-discrimination policies after fans of Mexico started chanting the antigay slur for a male prostitute and showering the field with objects. Players from both teams were struck by the objects, including U.S. midfielder Giovanni Reyna who lay on the ground for several minutes after he was hit on the head. The U.S. eventually won the game by a score of 3-2 on a game-winning penalty kick by Christian Pulisic in the 114th minute.
Mexico next hosts Costa Rica on January 30 and Panama on February 2.