The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) could have its senior women’s national team serve part of the punishment for fan behavior during matches involving the men’s under-23 side, according to the federation’s president, Yon de Luisa.
Anti-gay chants heard at matches vs. the Dominican Republic and the United States during the CONCACAF men’s pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in March yielded a punishment of Mexico playing its next two official home games behind closed doors.
Initially, it was expected that the senior men’s national team would serve the punishment, in its first two games of World Cup qualifying in September and October.
However, FIFA did not specifically state which of Mexico’s national teams would do so, opening the door for the senior women’s side to serve part of the punishment.
“The sanction refers to the two next official home matches to be played by representatives of the Mexican Football Federation independent of their category,” read a statement sent by FIFA to ESPN Mexico.
De Luisa, speaking to Mexican newspaper Reforma, also raised this possibility when discussing the next international friendly window, Sept. 13-21, to schedule a match for the women’s side.
“The possibility exists that the senior men’s team as well as the senior women’s team [can serve the ban], because of the upcoming home schedule. There’s a FIFA friendly for the women’s team in September, too,” De Luisa told Reforma on Friday.
De Luisa clarified that the FMF is waiting on FIFA for more specific details in regard to the punishment but did not deny considering using women’s national team matches to serve the ban if permitted to.
“There are men’s team and women’s team matches in the next few months, and we still don’t know when this two-match suspension will be applied,” De Luisa said in an interview with W Deportes.
Should FIFA allow the FMF to split the suspension between its representatives, the men’s team could then only serve one game of the suspension — the first match of World Cup qualifying, on Sept. 2 against Jamaica at Estadio Azteca.
If the senior women’s team then plays behind closed doors later in the month, the men would be freed up to play against Canada on Oct. 7 with no restrictions.
If FIFA allows for the FMF to split the punishment between the two teams, the women’s side will now be asked to serve punishment for anti-gay misbehavior from fans during games they didn’t take part. Mexico’s senior women’s team includes players who have identified themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
The anti-gay chant in question has been an ongoing issue for the FMF for nearly two decades. Following an initial investigation from FIFA at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Mexico has been fined 15 times since 2015 for behavior from fans in the stands. An update to FIFA’s Disciplinary Code allowed FIFA to levy bigger penalties for repeat offenders, culminating in a potential ban from competitions including the World Cup.
Efforts have been made by the FMF to curb the chant, including a mass media campaign and PSA videos at stadiums before and during national team matches. But none of the women’s team’s players have been included in any of those efforts.
“The chant is discriminatory and is moving us away from FIFA competitions,” said De Luisa in June ahead of the CONCACAF Nations League final, when he disclosed the two-game ban. “To those who think it’s fun to [do it], I have news for you. It’s not.”
Nonetheless, the June 6 final in Denver between the United States and Mexico was marred by unruly fan behavior that included objects thrown onto the field and a brief pause in the game because of fans using the anti-gay chant. There has been no investigation or punishment yielded for that match.