The U.S. men’s national team’s 3-0 win over Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals on Thursday was halted before second-half stoppage time due to a referee’s discretion.
Referee Evan Barton, who had already handed out four red cards in the game, stopped the game in the 89th minute due to anti-gay chants from the crowd at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The game resumed and with four minutes left in injury time, Barton blew the final whistle after a goal kick by US keeper Matt Turner.
Concacaf told ESPN after the match that the game was not abandoned due to confederation protocols regarding chanting, but “at the discretion of the referee”.
The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) has struggled in recent years to crack down on anti-gay chants shouted during goal kicks.
FIFA has fined the FMF over fan action that included a $108,000 sanction in January for chanting at the 2022 World Cup.
The FMF has made efforts to eradicate discriminatory chants through public service announcements, social media posts and pre-game announcements from players.
Concacaf also announced earlier in the day It has relaunched its anti-discrimination campaign, “Wrong is Wrong”, which aims to “raise awareness of the importance of inclusion and equality”. As part of the campaign, Concacaf said security would be increased and there would be a “more proactive approach to ejecting fans who engage in discriminatory chants”.
Whether US Soccer takes a more drastic approach is up in the air. In April, the federation enacted a policy that would penalize discriminatory chants during games. Derogatory chants can result in a two-year ban for a team from participating in international sports in the United States. A second offense carries a five-year ban and a third a permanent ban.
A source told ESPN earlier this year that as long as Mexico makes a good-faith effort to eradicate chanting, there will be no ban. There is uncertainty as to what threshold must be crossed for the ban to take effect.