Assistant referee Jassett Kerr intervenes in extra time during the 2021 CONCACAF Nations League Finals soccer series final match at Empower Field at Mile High.
The CONCACAF Nations League final between Mexico and the US was temporarily halted as the referee enforced rules on anti-discrimination violated by Mexican fans screaming anti-gay chants.
Mexican players pleaded with their own fans to cease the chant. “Once again, I insist — I asked you guys to stop with that screaming,” Memo Ochoa, the Mexican goalkeeper said during a press conference ahead of the final.
Mexico’s semifinal against Costa Rica was also paused because of the homophobic chant, which the Mexican soccer federation has been trying to eradicate for years but to no avail.
“It doesn’t help us at all. It is affecting us as a matter of fact,” Mr Ochoa added. He asked the fans not to continue with the chant, noting it could have consequences for the team, possibly even leading to them being ejected from future tournaments.
“All the team players are asking you, please, because in the long run, this could affect us,” he said.
In a video released by the Mexican soccer federation, players speaking to the camera can be seen telling fans: “Because of one word, we could all be silenced.
“If you see someone chanting, say something, call them out.”
In a thrilling game that went into overtime, the US team were victorious, beating Mexico 3-2, but not before being pelted with bottles and trash by Mexican fans. US midfielder Giovanni Reyna was hit in the face by an object after Christian Pulisic scored the game-winning goal.
“Total lack of respect for what’s happening on the field and all effort that both teams are putting into the game. I think he’s going to be OK, but he did take something to the head, and it could have been a lot worse,” US manager Gregg Berhalter said.
Security officers tackled a fan who tried to run onto the field towards the end of the game and another fan made it onto the set of CBS’s broadcast, jumping off a ledge to get away from security personnel. It’s unclear if the fan was injured and if he was caught by security.
The president of the Mexican Football Federation, Yon De Luisa, has said that in order to get fans to start behaving, there will be additional security officers present at games to identify where the chanting starts.
Fans will be ejected after their first offence, and they will be shown on the jumbotron in the stadium as they’re forced to leave.
“This is a persuasive action that really helps the entire stadium see that, ‘Oh, I don’t wanna be that guy on the screen,’” Mr De Luisa told Yahoo Sports.
“There will be warnings on the giant screen. There will be thorough campaigns in the different venues,” he said, adding: “We don’t want to get to that point, but, if the match needs to be abandoned, it will be.”
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