Racism row mars Mexican football

A series of racist and xenophobic incidents targeting foreign football players has marred Mexican football. In a week, four players have been subjected to monkey chants in games of the Mexican first division Liga MX.

On Saturday 15 February, fans of Atlante, a club from Cancún, South East Mexico, racially abused two Ecuadorian players of C.F. Pachuca during an encounter between the two sides, in Hidalgo.

Pachuca’s defender Walter Ayoví and his fellow countryman Enner Valencia were both targeted with discriminatory abuse each time they received the ball.

“We did realise that there was something going on, but we didn’t pay much attention because we were focused on the match; and, yes, we did noticed that every time we received the ball the fans shouted several insults”, said Pachuca’s midfielder Enner Valencia, who also plays for Ecuador’s national team.

“This topic [racism in football] has been discussed for weeks now, so people should reconsider their acts and avoid further racist abuse in the future.” he added.

The week before, the match between León and Pumas UNAM, on 8 February at León’s ground in Guanajuato, Central Mexico, was marked by a similar incident. The supporters of UNAM racially abused León’s Colombian players Eisner Loboa and Franco Arizala.

Clubs and fans condemn racism
In the aftermath of the incident at the Nou Camp stadium, Guanajuato, both clubs, condemned the supporters’ improper behaviour.

Initially, the Mexican Football Federation Disciplinary Committee claimed insufficient evidence to open an investigation. However, the country’s football disciplinary body has since reconsidered its first decision and requested further evidence from León.

In response to the incident, supporters of Pumas UNAM also expressed their discontentment and displayed anti-racist material, including posters and t-shirts, at their home match against Atlas.

Discrimination in Latin America’s football
During 2013, discriminatory incidents in Latin America’s football have triggered unprecedented measures and sanctions.

In Ecuador, a media report from January 2013 found that the Ecuadorian Football Federation (FEF) statutes did not include a law sanctioning discriminatory abuse. The FEF statutes only mentioned sanctions, such as closed stadium bans, to restrain fans’ violence.

The Costa Rican Football Association, Fedefútbol, called on the country’s football bodies to act tougher on discrimination. The call was made after the Costa Rican Union of the First Division Clubs (Unafut) fined the clubs of Saprissa and Cartaginés with €740 for fans’ improper behaviour.

In December 2013, Uruguay sanctioned for the first time a club for fans’ racism. The Montevideo based club Danubio F.C. were fined €1,200.

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