Guillermo Ochoa: “Once again, I insist. I asked you guys to stop with that screaming. It doesn’t help us at all. It is affecting us as a matter of fact.” (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Guillermo Ochoa, who has made many vital saves for the Mexican national team, is trying to make what many observers might claim to be the biggest stop of his career. That would be trying to deny El Tri supporters from chanting homophobic slurs. To the dismay of soccer officials they have done it for years.
The veteran goalkeeper Saturday pleaded with the fans to stop.
Despite threats by of sanctions by authorities (FIFA and Concacaf), Mexico’s fans keep repeating themselves game in and game out. It happened during Mexico’s win over Costa Rica at the Concacaf Nations League semifinals at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver Thursday night.
“Once again, I insist. I asked you guys to stop with that screaming,” Ochoa said during a Zoom press conference Saturday. “It doesn’t help us at all. It is affecting us as a matter of fact.”
Ochoa asked fans not to repeat the chants when the Mexicans meet the United States in Sunday’s final at 9:30 p.m. ET.
“Please [stop] tomorrow at the stadium and in the upcoming games in the Gold Cup, in the qualifiers, in Mexico, or abroad,” he said. All the team players are asking you, please, because in the long run, this could affect us.
“So please enjoy the match. Have fun. Support the players, support the colleagues. And of course, respect the rivals.”
El Tri head coach Tata Martino said trying to stop the chants is out of the hands of the Mexican team.
“Well, I think it has to do with the decision making of the entities could go to an extreme, where we can no longer do anything,” he said. “We have spoken with the guys. We have spoken with the organizations, the players. We have spoken with the fans about that. We cannot do anything else … Please respect. Respect the opponent.”
Thursday’s encounter was the first that Mexico played in front of a crowd in quite a while due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked what message he had for supporters, Ochoa replied: “Well, I would tell them enjoy the match. When we see them at the stadium, we missed the audience a lot. Soccer is not the same without them in the stadium. Without them, when you arrive to the stadium, it’s a totally different sport. The demand is different. The mood is different. But what now we’re very happy because little by little the fans are coming back to the stadium.
“So, enjoy the teams, enjoy the players. And once again, I’d like to stress, please come to the stadium, enjoy with your family and enjoy with your children come with your friends. But with respect. We should help the show. We should help football. Please do things that support and cheer us up to move on, but don’t do things that can affect us.”