One of the CONCACAF Nations League soccer semifinals Thursday night was briefly halted over homophobic chants, an incident that also led security to eject a number of fans from the Empower Field at Mile High stadium in Denver, Colo.
The tense match that ultimately ended with Mexico’s penalty-kick victory over Costa Rica was halted for three minutes during stoppage time near the end of the game.
According to a statement sent by CONCACAF on its Nations League Twitter account, “stadium security ejected several fans for discriminatory language after warnings were made on the PA system.”
The Nations League is a soccer tournament among national teams of CONCACAF, the regional governing body for the sport in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
According to CBS Soccer, the fans were ejected following “multiple uses of a derogatory chant during Costa Rican goal kicks.”
The punishments weren’t enough to control the situation, however, and despite a series of warnings transmitted through the stadium’s sound system, the anti-gay chants continued.
PA announcements are typically the first step in CONCACAF's anti-discrimination protocol, according to CBS Sports. If that doesn’t work, match officials can choose to stop the game for up to three minutes.
“Due to discriminatory chanting, the referee has stopped the match for up to three minutes. This action is part of @CONCACAF's antidiscrimination protocol,” a second tweet read.
The Mexico national soccer team, commonly known as El Tri, has largely failed to control its supporters from chanting homophobic chants.
“This has been something that we have struggled with for the last years, and not only in the U.S., but almost everywhere where our national team plays,” Mexican Football Federation president Yon de Luisa said last week, according to ESPN.
“We saw it a little bit [at the 2018 World Cup] in Russia and other places where we have played. This is a challenge for us. This has become one of our important challenges for our federation,” he added.
After the contentious semifinal, which Mexico won 5-4 in a penalty shootout, the team will now face the United States in the final on Sunday.
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