Anti-gay slurs chanted from home supporters in Mexico Thursday during World Cup Qualifying cast a shadow over what will go down as a historic draw for Canada’s men’s soccer team.
Shocking stuff in this Mexico-Canada match as ref pauses play due to homophobic chants from Mexico supporters. Truly disgusting. Stronger action from CONCACAF and FIFA needed.
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) October 8, 2021
The situation forced match officials to pause play at Azteca Stadium when the homophobic chants rang out around the hour mark.
Officials were forced to issue a warning to fans in the stadium before the match got back underway moments later, ending in a tie, with Canada picking up a valuable away point against the top-ranked team in CONCACAF — the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) October 8, 2021
This was not the first time Mexico supporters gave been reprimanded for homophobic rhetoric.
FIFA originally ordered Mexico to play two home games without fans after chants, which used a derogatory term for a male sex worker, were heard at an Olympic qualifying tournament in June.
The penalty was eventually reduced to one game, allowing fans to be in attendance for the 1-1 draw against Canada.
In addition to the suspension of fans from the stadium, the Mexican Football Federation was also fined about $65,000.
Mexican fans persist in aiming the chant at opposing teams’ goalkeepers, despite the repeated consequences.
However, homophobia and homophobic chants are not just a problem among Mexico fans.
According to the Guardian, FIFA issued 51 disciplinary actions during 2018 World Cup qualifiers related to homophobic actions.
While many of the actions were directed toward Mexico fans, supporters of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, and more were also fined.
Change needed, says advocate
Colin McKenna with PFLAG Vancouver says he isn’t entirely shocked by homophobic chants, adding many in the LGBTQ2S+ community feel unwelcome in sports.
“It’s a long standing issue for LGBTQ people to feel uncomfortable in sports venues or in the sports world, and this is a reason why. Many of us growing up heard similar things in sports arenas or similar places…it’s very disappointing,” McKenna said.
He is calling for accountability so people understand there are consequences to this kind of behaviour.
“[Officials] have a responsibility to make it clear that it won’t be acceptable going forward, and if that means that Mexico is disqualified entirely perhaps that’s what they need to do. It’s something that unless the organization takes a very firm stand it will just continue to happen,” he said.
He adds PFLAG works with parents and families to help them understand and accept their LGBTQ2+ children, adding these kinds of incidents have a huge impact on younger people.
“These types of events hold a ton of weight. The children in that country hear it, they see it, if it’s someone who is young and hasn’t yet come out, imagine the power that this holds?”
-With files from The Associated Press
This content was originally published here.