Soccer fans in Mexico battled police in the stands and charged the field after repeated chants of a homophobic slur forced their team to forfeit an important playoff match.
Fans of C.A. Morelia interrupted their team's quarterfinal game against Tampico Madero F.C. with chants of "p*to!" and then erupted in anger when the players were sent to the locker rooms. According to a report in the Mexico Daily News, officials were eventually forced to call the match a forfeit when the angry, homophobic fans started throwing objects onto the field. League officials quickly responded by handing down a three-game ban on the team and an undisclosed fine.
"The homophobic shout is unacceptable in our football and the regulations and sanctions will be applied with all their rigor," league officials tweeted Saturday immediately following the game, adding the case had been handed off to the disciplinary committee for review and possible sanctions.
The Disciplinary Commission wasted little time in reviewing the case and handing out the ban and fine, adding the punishment was especially harsh due to the severity of the fans' actions in light of the current health situation.
"It is worth mentioning that the sanction is a game and an economic fine for the entry of five fans to the field, a situation that could put the integrity and health of players and members of the Technical Corps at risk," the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) disciplinary commission said in a statement. "Furthermore, taking into account the current health contingency, said invasion represents a flagrant violation of health protocols."
Video of the frightening incident shows fans, some shirtless, confronting police and throwing objects onto the field. Some fans can be seen charging the field before being quickly taken down by police.
Soccer fans in Mexico have a history of chanting anti-gay slurs at players from opposing teams. While some attempt to rationalize the practice as a cultural tradition, various leagues have taken direct aim at eliminating the offensive chants with varying success.
Last month the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) found the Mexican national team guilty of "discriminatory behavior by supporters" during games against Canada and Honduras in October after fans chanted homophobic slurs. The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) was also fined 100,000 Swiss francs (around $110,000) for the continued behavior of its fans. 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.
Also 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 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.
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