Anti-Gay Chants End US-Mexico Soccer Match Early in Las Vegas

Posted on: June 17, 2023, 08:04h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2023, 08:05h.

The US men’s soccer match against Mexico was cut short Thursday by the referee, after Mexican fans filled Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas with homophobic chants.

US defender Sergio Dest goes after Mexico defender Gerardo Arteaga during a chaotic mess of a soccer match on Thursday in Las Vegas. (Image: Reuters)

Referee Ivan Barton halted the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Nations League semi-final to stop the chants at the 89-minute mark, with the US team leading 3-0.

But after a 12-minute stop — during which the scoreboards flashed a message begging for the chants to end — they resumed against US goalkeeper Matt Turner. That’s when referee Ivan Barton called the game for good with four minutes of stoppage time remaining.

The rants, usually directed at the opposing team’s goalkeepers when they take a goal kick, have been a disturbing tradition among Mexican soccer fans for years. They have led to fines for the Mexican Football Federation — including more than $100K following the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar.

Fans have been ejected from stadiums for chanting — including several Thursday night. And many of the Mexican players have posted videos asking for the chanting to stop. But nothing has worked.

It remains to be seen whether early finishes can curb the chants, but most are not optimistic as stadiums in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey all gear up to host World Cup matches in the next three years.

“CONCACAF strongly condemns the discriminatory chanting by some fans during the CNL semi final match between Mexico and the United States,” the organization said in a statement on Friday. “These incidents were extremely disappointing and tarnished what should have been a positive occasion to showcase high-quality football in our region.”

In April, US Soccer also announced its own policy on discriminatory chanting, which stipulates that a team can be banned from playing an international game in the US for two years if chants are heard, with a second violation garnering a five-year ban, and a third leading to a potential permanent ban.

The game had already erupted in chaos before the stoppage, as US players Weston McKennie and Sergiño Dest were ejected by Barton, along with Mexicans César Montes and Gerardo Arteaga, for fighting.

CONCACAF says it will launch an investigation into the chanting.