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USMNT vs. Mexico stopped due to discriminatory chanting: History of Mexico’s derogatory soccer chants

USMNT vs. Mexico stopped due to discriminatory chanting: History of Mexico’s derogatory soccer chants

North America’s best sides are involved in the Concacaf Nations League with United States vs. Mexico in the final on Sunday night, but while the attention was focused on the action on the pitch, crowd trouble took over late. 

Each of the previous two CNL finales have been marred by the usage of anti-LGBTQ+ chants by Mexico fans, who have repeatedly caused stoppages in play as a result. It occurred again late on in the final with the U.S. up 2-0 with the ref stopping the match in the final minutes after numerous in-stadium announcements. The chants continued as the match was halted again in stoppage time. 

Here’s a look at the protocol referees will be following should crowd trouble arise and a look back at how the situation was handled at previous CNL matches.

Soccer’s anti-discrimination policies

During both previous editions of the Nations League finals, Mexico matches have been halted because of the fans’ use of the anti-LGBTQ+ chant. El Tri’s 2021 semifinal win over Costa Rica was paused for three minutes during a penalty shootout, which ended with several fans being ejected from the stadium. Several days later in the CNL final against the U.S. men’s national team, the match once again paused for three minutes during second-half stoppage time.

During last year’s CNL semifinal against the USMNT, the discriminatory chant led to a stop in the 90th minute, when the U.S. were already up 3-0. The teams came back out and had 12 minutes of stoppage time to play, but the game ended after only seven minutes were played.

Mexico have also been penalized several times by FIFA in recent years for their fans’ usage of the anti-LGBTQ+ chant. The team played two World Cup qualifiers in the winter of 2022 behind closed doors and were fined 100,000 Swiss francs (around $110,000) and received the same fine and a one-match supporters ban after fans were heard using the chant during 2022 World Cup group stage matches against Poland and Saudi Arabia.

Since the Nations League matches fall under Concacaf’s jurisdiction, the North American soccer body will be in charge of doling out punishments. It is currently unclear what, if any, sanctions Concacaf will issue for the fan incidents.

Soccer’s anti-discrimination policies

Ahead of the first Nations League finals in 2021, Concacaf instituted a three-step policy that is in line with FIFA’s guidelines on discriminatory language from fans.

At the referee’s discretion, a match will first be temporarily stopped upon hearing discriminatory behavior. That pause will be followed by a stadium announcement, as well as a message on in-stadium screens explaining the halt alongside a request to fans to stop using discriminatory language.

If the behavior continues, the referee can then suspend the match and send the teams to the locker room for what the officials deem an appropriate amount of time, a decision that will once again be followed by announcements. The referee’s final course of action can be to abandon the match.

Fans caught doing discriminatory behavior also face the possibility of being kicked out of the match.

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