Ejections and Excuses at the Confederations Cup

FIFA has made cracking down on homophobic chants a priority at the 2017 Confederations Cup, and their actions for the most part seem to be working.

While FIFA issued more fan warnings last week following Mexico’s opener against Portugal, Mexican National Team head coach Juan Carlos Osorio made excuses for the behavior: “I understand why the crowd chants and I don’t think the interpretation made internationally is right. I hope the Mexican federation will tell FIFA again that this doesn’t mean what people think it means.”

The meaning of the chant is now beyond interpretation. Mexican LGBT groups, out athletes in Mexico, and linguistic experts all concur that the word is homophobic.

Fans are receiving mixed messages from the Mexican federation, with players both appearing in public service announcements but also defending their fans in interviews. Defender Miguel Layun said the chant isn’t meant to offend and is used among friends, using the kind of elementary school logic used by an eight year old when caught calling a friend a “f****t” or saying something is “gay.”

But as Mexico played their second group stage match against New Zealand, FIFA took action. Two fans were indentfied by undercover officers as trying to incite the chant among fans around them. They were ejected from the stadium, received a fifteen-day suspension, and faced a fine they must pay in order to receive credentials needed to leave Russia.

Despite the language coming from the Mexican National Team camp, FIFA’s actions are for the most part working at the Confederations Cup and with CONCACAF’s Gold Cup right around the corner one wonders if they will follow suit in stadiums across the United States.

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