Mexican fans during extratime at the Concacaf Nations League final. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Only two games?
Heck, I would have thrown the book at Mexico.
In fact, I have another number – zero, as in zero tolerance.
On Friday, FIFA banned fans from attending the first of El Tri’s two World Cup qualifying matches because of anti-gay chants that were used during the Concacaf men’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Guadalajara in March.
Translated: the Mexican will play behind closed doors against Jamaica on Sept. 2 and Canada on oct.t 7. FIFA also fined the Mexican Football Federation $73,000. It was the most severe sanctions on the federation.
FIFA still is investigating the chant that was used in three recent matches in the USA, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“What for some seemed to be fun, I have news for you. It isn’t,” MFF president Yon de Luisa said at a Friday news conference, the Times reported. “Because of it we’re kept out of the stadium and kept away from our national team. Please stop. Stop now.”
I would have liked to have seen the ban even further, like the end of this year, but I guess this is better than nothing.
Prior to the Concacaf Nations League final against the U.S. in Denver earlier this month, Mexican international goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and head coach Tata Martino pleaded with Mexican supporters to stop, that the national team faced severe sanctions.
Fans still chanted anti-gay slurs during the game.
And there were more ugly incidents in the championship match, which the Americans prevailed in extratime, 3-2. Fans threw bottles onto the field at the USMNT players during Christian Pulisic’s winning goal celebration. An object from the stands also hit Gio Reyna ion the head.
“I want to ask all Mexican supporters to reflect, so that they understand the meaning and scope of this type of attitude, which, inevitably, make us move away from each other, not being able to be together in the qualifiers, including potentially missing out on international competition, with everything important that lies ahead,” Martino said.
As turns out, Mexico’s matches prior to WCQ won’t be affected by the sanctions, at least for now.
El will play a minimum of five games and as many as eight games in the states. The Mexicans have two friendlies – vs. Panama in Nashville, Tenn. June 30 and Nigeria in Los Angeles July 3. Then comes the Concacaf Gold Cup. Mexico will have a minimum of three group stage contests and a possible six matches if it runs the table and reaches the final.
If this kind of crap – the chants – continues happens in these U.S.-hosted games, I wouldn’t press to throw the book at Mexico, I would try to throw the entire library.