Mexican Soccer Federation asks fans to boot anti-gay chants

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican Soccer Federation launched a campaign Tuesday urging fans to refrain from anti-gay chants that drew fines from FIFA earlier this year.

Called “Embraced by Soccer,” the campaign consists of a couple of 30-second videos in which popular stars including forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, captain and defender Rafael Marquez and midfielder Andres Guardado ask fans not to engage in discriminatory behavior.

They were released hours before Mexico hosted Canada in a 2018 World Cup qualifier for the CONCACAF region. In a statement, the soccer federation said the clips aim to discourage “a practice that is contrary to respect and the dignity of people.”

“We care about soccer in all its aspects, so we wish to guarantee an intense spectacle that is celebrated in the context of respect,” the federation said. “We are free to display our passion as long as it is not used to offend anyone.”

Fans in Mexico are known for yelling a gay slur during kicks by opposing goalkeepers, something that gained global attention during the 2014 World Cup and prompted a FIFA disciplinary probe.

Back then the world soccer body opted not to penalize the federation, saying the shouts were “not considered an insult in this specific context.”

But this January, FIFA levied $20,000 fines on the soccer federations of Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay for what it called “insulting and discriminatory” chants. Chile was hit with a $70,000 penalty.

Mexico’s fine involved a match in November when the slur was directed at El Salvador’s goalkeeper.

The chants originated among fans of the Chivas club of Guadalajara and grew in popularity after a 2004 match between the Mexican and U.S. national teams that was played in the same city.

The Mexican Soccer Federation said the ad campaign will be continuing but did not give details about any other actions it might take.