The international friendly football match between Mexico and Ecuador was halted temporarily in the second half Sunday due to Mexico fans directing an anti-gay chant at Ecuador’s goalkeeper. Mexico’s national team was warned on several occasions during World Cup qualifiers when its supporters directed homophobic taunts at opponents.
The two teams played to a 0-0 draw in the match at Soldier Field in Chicago in front of an announced crowd of 61,104.
The chant erupted during an Ecuador goal kick in the 81st minute, prompting the referee to initiate step one of FIFA’s three-step protocol.
Players gathered around the center circle for a brief stoppage before play resumed. During the break, Ecuadorian players said that their Mexican opponents apologized for the actions of their fans.
As part of the three-step protocol, a second stoppage would have resulted in a suspension of play with players going to their dressing rooms, while a third incident would have seen the game abandoned.
Fans at Soldier Field were warned about the chants several times Sunday, including a video message before the game from Mexico star Andrés Guardado, but those warnings proved ineffective. Earlier, organizers of the match had posted displays outside the stadium, sent an email to ticket holders, and used public service announcements to warn attendees against chanting homophobic slurs.
Mexico was forced to play two World Cup qualifiers this year behind closed doors at Azteca Stadium due to a FIFA punishment over the chant.
According to Mexico coach Tata Martino, the chants reflected disappointment at his team’s lethargic offense. “Yes, there was frustration that we did not play well but this is no excuse for the behavior of some of the fans. It has no place in the sport and, once again, I am ashamed of the actions of some of the crowd.”
Sports commentators said that Ecuador was clearly the better team Sunday, pushing the action, but like Mexico, was unable to score.