Mexican soccer fans have been in a long, contentious battle with the powers that be over their right to free speech while in the stands. Specifically, FIFA hates the “Puto” chant, so much so that the Confederations Cup was selected as a pilot tournament for the new three-step program aimed towards eliminating homophobic and offensive chants. In light of the new rules, a few Mexican fans felt defiant during their opening match against Portugal on Sunday.
Cameras were set up in the crowd to monitor the behavior of fans during the game, and they succeeded in capturing a group of Mexican fans continuing on with the chant deemed homophobic by FIFA, which led to the world authority on soccer making a statement: “After evaluating the respective reports of the match, the president of the FIFA Disciplinary Commission has decided to impose a warning to the Mexican Football Federation for the inappropriate behavior regarding offensive and discriminatory chants of a small number of Mexican fans on the occasion of the meeting of the FIFA Confederations Cup between Portugal and Mexico.”
In the face of this pressure, the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol (FMF) has pleaded with fans to hold their tongues: “As you know, FIFA takes very seriously the chant we do when the goalkeeper clears and the possible sanctions are serious. If we continue with this behavior, the effort on the field will not work if we lose the game, if they suspend the game or if they expel you from the stadium; we lose, you lose, we all lose. Because we know that you are unconditional, we trust in you, we know that together we will change history.”
FIFA has already fined Mexico a stunning 8 times for the “puto” chant, to no avail. With monetary discipline obviously leaving the fans unbothered, FIFA thinks they can influence change by directly affecting the outcome of the game. According to the new three-step program, after a warning is issued, if the chants continue, the referee can stop the match until they subside. If the offensive behavior doesn’t stop, the referee can then take the third step and suspend the match indefinitely.
Mexico has yet to see this fate, but it seems to be only a matter of time until they have to face this reality head on. On Wednesday, the Mexican national team takes on New Zealand in their second game of the cup, and the latest FIFA scolding seems only likely to egg the rebellious Mexican fans on. Will they get FIFA’s message, or will they continue to push the issue until a Mexican game is affected?