CINCINNATI – If fans chant or shout any offensive language during the U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier on Friday night, they could be removed from TQL Stadium and the game could be stopped or even abandoned, U.S. Soccer announced earlier in the afternoon.
Mexican supporters are notorious for chanting offensive slurs, many times after the opposing goalkeeper has kicked the ball. El Tri has been forced to play its World Cup qualifiers behind closed doors at a cavernous Estadio Azteca due to the abusive chants in previous matches, home and away.
“U.S. Soccer believes there is no room for discrimination in our game,” a U.S. Soccer statement said. “Everyone in the stadium must comply with U.S. Soccer’s Fan Code of Conduct, which prohibits offensive language. If fans chant or shout offensive language, U.S. Soccer will activate FIFA’s anti-discrimination protocol. This means fans could be removed from the stadium, and the match could be stopped or abandoned.”
If fans were removed from the venue or if the game was suspended for offensive chanting, refunds will not tbe offered, U.S. Soccer said.
U.S. Soccer then stated FIFA’s three-step procedure for anti-discrimination:
- Stop the match: The referee and match commissioner reserve the right to stop the match if discriminatory language does not cease. The announcement for Step 1 should be read out by the stadium announcer or a pre-recorded version should be broadcast in the languages of both teams.
- Suspend the match: If the potential discriminatory act does not cease once the game has restarted (i.e. Step 1 was ineffective), the referee shall suspend the match for a reasonable time period (five to ten minutes) and instruct teams to return to the dressing rooms. The announcement for Step 2 should be read out by the stadium announcer or a pre-recorded version should be broadcast in the languages of both teams.
- Abandon the match: If the incident does not cease after the game has restarted or if it was not possible to restart the game (i.e. Step 2 was ineffective), the referee shall, as a very last resort, abandon the match.
According to a U.S. Soccer press release, the organization has taken the following preemptive measures to avoid discriminatory language through the following communications:
* Proactive in-stadium PAs and video board graphics discouraging offensive language and delineating U.S. Soccer’s anti-discrimination protocol.
* Proactively showing a video in-stadium that outlines the three-step procedure. It will be played in English and Spanish prior to the start of the match.
* Proactively including messaging discouraging offensive language and outlining U.S. Soccer’s anti-discrimination policy in U.S. Soccer’s official Match Guide, which is shared via email to all ticket purchasers.
* Proactively post social media graphics on U.S. Soccer channels discouraging offensive language and outlining U.S. Soccer’s anti-discrimination policy.
* American Outlaws will share similar social media graphics discouraging offensive language and outlining U.S. Soccer’s anti-discrimination policy.
* U.S. Soccer will be prepared with reactive stadium PAs and video board graphics to be used at the discretion of the match Commissioner.
The federation said that “U.S. Soccer said it had been in communication with the FMF, which has created their own campaign to eradicate discriminatory behaviors during matches. U.S. Soccer and FMF are working together for tonight’s match to have a united message to all fans.”