Mexico football match ends in violence after homophobic chant grinds game to a halt

Side-by-side screen captures of football fans storming a stadium pitch

A football match in Michoacán, Mexico, erupted into violence after officials suspended the game over homophobic fan chants.

At the Liga de Expansión MX quarter-finals game between Club Atlético Morelia and Tampico Madero Fútbol Club on Saturday (4 December), chants of “Eh, p**o!” ripped through the Morelos Stadium in the final minutes.

The phrase, anti-gay slang for a male sex worker comparable to the f-slur, has long been a tradition for some Mexican football fans even as the Mexican Football Federation has sought to stamp it out.

Per the governing body’s rulebook, the referee was forced to grind the match to a halt because the slur was shouted by fans in the stalls. Players were sent back to the locker rooms, Mexico News Daily reported.

But as the players walked off, tensions flared in the stalls as some fans became violent and began lobbing objects onto the field.

Organisers attempted to restart the match only for the crowds to become rowdy. The game was then suspended entirely.

The Tampico Madero Fútbol Club won 2-0, booting Club Atlético Morelia out of the quater-finals of the semi-professional league.

Ending the game, however, did little to ease the five furious fans who spilt onto the pitch in Morelia jerseys. Others came to blows in gates four and five of the stadium while leaving.

Michoacán state police swarmed the arena to dispel the scuffle after stadium security was unable to do so.

Homophobic chants are ‘unacceptable’, say Mexican football league

The homophobic chant that ignited the mob was “unacceptable”, Liga de Expansión MX tweeted Sunday (5 December), adding that the disciplinary committee of the Mexican Football Federation would be reviewing the incident.

“The homophobic chant is unacceptable in our football and the rules and sanctions will be applied in full.”

On Tuesday (7 December), the committee sanctioned Club Atlético Morelia for the ensuing violence and homophobia. The club will be fined and banned from playing for the next three home matches.

For years, fans have yelled “p**o” during opposing goal kicks at almost every men’s national team game in Mexico, with football’s top governing bodies struggling with how to put a stop to it.

From FIFA, the sport’s top regulator, to the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, bodies have been at loggerheads with Mexican fans over the chant.

A near-identical scene to the one witnessed this weekend took place in Mexico City only in September, with Cruz Azul supporters spewing the chant as their team sparred against Monterrey.

Concacaf Champions League officials immediately stopped the game, with players leaving the pitch for some 10 minutes. Concacaf vowed to investigate the “offensive and discriminatory” comments, the association said in a news release on its website.

While at two World Cup qualifier matches in June, FIFA banned spectators after Mexico fans refused to stop using the chant.