The chief operating officer of the Mexico national team has defended the use of gay slurs by the country's fans, saying that nothing can be done about it.
Mexican supporters who have traveled to watch their side compete in the World Cup in Brazil have been heard shouting a derogatory term each time an opposing goalkeeper takes a kick – a common practice in Mexico. Four days ago, soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, announced it had begun disciplinary proceedings in response to the chants.
However, the COO of the Mexico team, Hector Gonzalez Inarritu, defended the fans and explained that it was part of the country’s culture.
"The [Mexican] Federation is unable to restrict this expression. We cannot do anything legally or administratively,” he said. "It is not aggression – it is something that we’ve had for a long time in the Mexican League and in international matches.
"The people of Brazil were also yelling [a slur] at Guillermo [Ochoa] and it’s the same. FIFA would have to punish all federations.”
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera backed the use of the slur recently when he said: “We’re with our fans. It’s something they do to pressure the opposing goalkeeper.”
But, Piara Powar — a member of FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) and the Committee Against Racism — condemned the behavior.
"The homophobic chants are totally unacceptable. There must be action quickly before it starts to run out of control,” he said. “FIFA have strong regulations in this regard. Zero tolerance is what is required here.”
Under FIFA’s regulations, supporters could face punishments such as suspensions or expulsions from grounds if they are found guilty of breaching the rules.
"The sporting sanctions are the only effective punishment," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said.