Recently, sports teams have begun to face penalties for bad things that happen during games – poor behavior by players, and even homophobic of racist fan actions. In Mexico, a game-gone-bad punishment levied on the Mexican national soccer team nearly went to another team instead – the women’s national soccer team. What’s going on?
Brenda Elsey teaches history at Hofstra University in New York, cohosts the podcast “Burn it All Down” and is the author of “Futbolera: A History Of Women And Sports In Latin America.” She told Texas Standard that at two recent games played in Costa Rica by the Mexican men’s team, fans chanted a homophobic slur. It’s called the “p chant” and typically occurs when the opposing goal keeper touches the ball.
FIFA, soccer’s international governing body levied a 60,000 Swiss franc fine and ruled the team must play its next two qualifying matches without fans.
“That’s really important, because the fans, even in the U.S. for Mexico, are just some of the most dynamic and supportive in the world,” Elsey said.
In response, the Mexican Football Federation asked FIFA if the punishment could be “spread out,” Elsey says, to include the women’s national team. The federation asked if the women’s team could take the punishment when they play international matches in September.
“There was an uproar,” Elsey said. “And immediately, supporters of women’s football recognized that this was just one more really aggressive way to hurt the women’s game in Mexico.”
Elsey says the Mexican Congress stepped in to stop the sanction-shifting, saying it represented gender inequity.
She says the Mexican women’s team is already underfunded and underappreciated.
“Sin vergüenza,” Elsey says. It means “shame on you.”