Mexico and host nation Brazil are among four nations whose fan behavior at the 2014 World Cup is being looked into by FIFA.
Fans of El Tri have it the worst, as disciplinary procedures have already begun against them for alleged racist and homophobic actions during Friday’s opener against Cameroon.
Part of the problem is the chants sent toward goalkeepers before their goal kicks, a homophobic slur common in Mexican stadiums.
Yelling the word “puto” (a derogatory term to refer to homosexuals) at the opposing goalkeeper when he takes a goal kick has become a Mexican trademark in soccer stadiums. This ritual is part of the live Mexican soccer experience. It happens in every single stadium in Mexico and almost no one can be excused from participating in this act.
Children who aren’t allowed to use this word at the dinner table are excused when they join the thousands of fans at the stadium who yell this insult. Educated women who are likely not to use this word in an ordinary conversation also let go of their throats and scream the word “puto” cheerfully in unison with the rest of the crowd.
During the Mexico vs Brazil match in Fortaleza, Brazilian fans began to imitate the Mexican ritual and FIFA took note of it. FIFA’s concern is that this ritual, which they label as homophobic will spread to fans from other countries.
It’s being called “improper conduct”, and FIFA has stepped past financial penalties into what they deem to be more effective sanctions.
Tough new rules to stop such offences were introduced by Fifa last year.
A first racism offence by fans or players can be punished by having to play a game behind closed doors – subsequent or more serious offences can be punished by deducting points, relegation or expulsion from a competition.
Fifa is also believed to be looking into reports of homophobic chanting by Brazil’s supporters and anti-Semitic and racist banners displayed by followers of Croatia and Russia.
It’s a massive stage on which FIFA can make a strong statement. We’ll see what happens.