Homophobic chants ground a football match in Mexico to a halt as players were forced off the pitch.
Players left the field for some 10 minutes in the Concacaf Champions League semi-final second leg in Mexico City which saw Cruz Azul fair against Monterrey.
At around the 64-minute mark in Azteca Stadium, the match was frozen as Cruz Azul fans began hurling homophobic insults from the stands.
Cruz Azul was trailing Monterry 4-1 at the time. They had also resorted to similar homophobic language earlier in the match that forced referees to issue a stern warning.
The supporters shouted the “goalkeeper chant”, which typically sees Mexican fans chant “ehhh…” as the opponent’s goalkeeper lines up a goal kick until the kick is followed by a cry of “p**o!” – anti-gay slang for a male sex worker.
Such a slur has long given football chiefs a headache, and Thursday night’s (16 September) game was no exception.
Football body condemns ‘offensive and discriminatory’ homophobic chant
The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, the football association otherwise known as Concacaf, said it will investigate the “offensive and discriminatory” comments.
A “large number” of Cruz Azul fans took part in the chart, Concacaf said in anews release on its website.
“We commend the referees for correctly activating the anti-discrimination protocol and the stadium security for ejecting hundreds of Cruz Azul fans when the match was paused,” the governing body said.
“The Confederation has for several months proactively communicated to fans, through its What’s Wrong Is Wrong campaign, that these types of behaviours have no place in football.
“We are all committed to eradicating the discriminatory ‘goalkeeper’ chant.”
In line with Concacaf’s discriminatory language policy, the game had to be briefly suspended as players from both sides walked off the pitch and returned to their locker rooms.
If fans had continued to chant, referees would have been forced to enter “Step Three” of the policy which sees the match stopped altogether.
The match resumed, however, without a hitch. Ending with Monterrey making it to the finals on a 5-1 aggregate.
A similar incident took place in June when FIFA, the sport’s top regulator, ordered a ban on spectators at two World Cup qualifier matches after Mexico fans refused to stop screaming the homophobic slur “p**o” at opposing players.