Ahead of his team's second round of World Cup group play, Mexican soccer star Javier "Chicharito" Hernández posted a plea on Twitter and Instagram for fans to stop using a homophobic chant.
It is common for many Latino soccer fans to shout p--o—a slang word for 'sex worker' typically used as a slur for gay men—as the opposing keeper takes a goal kick. The chant has become a source of contention within the Mexican fanbase and the world of soccer.
The Mexican national team created a video in 2016 pledging to rid its fanbase of the chant. Yet two years later, it still rang clear through Luzhniki Stadium from the throng of supporters at the team's opening game of the World Cup. With the possibility of FIFA fines looming, Hernández took to social media to ask fans to stop the chant.
“To all Mexican fans in the stadiums, don’t shout ‘p--o’,” Hernández said. “Let’s not risk another sanction.”
The team echoed his sentiment on Twitter, but not all fans have been supportive of the team's efforts toward inclusiveness.
The first p--o chant could be heard in the 25th minute of the team's group-stage win over Germany and continued intermittently. Since then, FIFA has announced that it will investigate both the Mexican team and the referees overseeing the match.
According to new guidelines from FIFA, referees are required to stop games and issue announcements warning fans if any discriminatory chants are heard, eventually suspending the game if fans refuse to comply. The referees of Sunday's game allowed play to continue despite audible homophobic chan
FIFA later reported that a warning "was prepared but the chants ceased" and that referees booked the incident in the official match report, according to James Ellingworth of the Associated Press. This decision-making will be investigated and evaluated by one of the three anti-discrimination match observers employed by FIFA to monitor the inclusiveness of World Cup game environments.
Throughout the last year of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, the Mexican side has received 12 sanctions for the homophobic chant, earning 11 fines of at least $30,000 after two initial warnings were served. FIFA also fined six other countries, including Argentina and Chile, for similar chanting.
These penalties come as FIFA attempts to crack down on discrimination after the widespread use of the chant went unpunished in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Mexico faces South Korea on Saturday in its second match of the group stage.