Mexico to play in empty stadium for 2 World Cup qualifers

ZURICH (AP) — Mexico will have to play in an empty stadium for its next two home games in World Cup qualifying because of persistent anti-gay chants by fans, FIFA said Monday.

The Mexican soccer federation was also fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($110,000) for charges of “discriminatory behavior by supporters.” It’s the latest punishment in a long-standing campaign to stop fans from directing slurs at opposing players.

Mexico will host Costa Rica on Jan. 30 and Panama on Feb. 2 in an empty stadium, costing the federation millions of dollars in lost revenue.

The anti-gay chants were heard last month when Mexico hosted qualifiers against Canada and Honduras. The storied Azteca Stadium drew a combined attendance of more than 130,000 fans for those games.

The Azteca was empty when Mexico opened World Cup qualifying in September against Jamaica because of a previous FIFA punishment.

Mexico is scheduled to host the United States on March 24.

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