FIFA threatens sanctions for Mexico after anti-gay chant reemerges

FIFA has officially opened an investigation after anti-gay chants were audible during the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying match between Mexico and the Dominican Republic on March 18.

Potential sanctions range from a fine charged to the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) to forfeiture of the three points obtained from the 4-1 El Tri win.

- UEFA World Cup qualifiers on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)
- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

"FIFA can confirm the opening of a disciplinary procedure against the FMF due to the discriminatory incidents during the match between Mexico and the Dominican Republic," a statement from FIFA to ESPN Mexico read.

Should Mexico forfeit the points, statutes dictate the previous result would be replaced with a 3-0 loss.

The resulting goal difference would push El Tri down to second place in the final Group A standings and change its semifinal opponent from Canada to Honduras.

The chant was also heard during the match between Mexico and the United States on March 24, however, FIFA has not yet confirmed it will open a second investigation into that incident.

Late in the second half, following a scuffle between U.S. goalkeeper David Ochoa and Mexico defender Alejandro Mayorga, Mexican fans unleashed the chant after Ochoa took the ensuing free kick.

In years past, official measures were put into place to stamp the chant out at both domestic and international competitions.

In 2019, Enrique Bonilla, then-president of Liga MX, announced approval for referees to temporarily stop matches if the chant is heard, and empowered the competition's disciplinary committee to hold games without fans as punishment for teams with repeating offenses.

Liga MX's protocol mirrors the three-step procedure for discriminatory incidents sent by FIFA to all its member associations, "to pursue a zero-tolerance policy" for any incident perceived as racist or anti-gay" from the crowd.

The chant first came to FIFA's attention in 2014, at the World Cup in Brazil, which resulted in warnings for the FMF.

The CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, hosted in Guadalajara, has allowed for limited attendance due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Within the Jalisco and Akron stadiums, where matches are held, public service announcements asking fans to refrain from the chant have played constantly.

On television broadcasts of the matches in Mexico, similar messages have aired.

If found guilty, another potential punishment could see all fans banned from Mexico's all-important next match, in which their qualification for the Tokyo Games is at stake.