CONCACAF Nations League final twice stopped because of homophobic chants in pro-Mexican crowd

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The U.S.-Mexico CONCACAF Nations League final match was suspended in the late stages for the second straight year because of homophobic chants by pro-Mexican fans.

Canadian referee Drew Fischer stopped play in the 88th minute of the United States' 2-0 victory in Sunday night's final, played before a crowd of 59,471 at AT&T Stadium.

Play resumed after a 4 1/2-minute wait, and Fischer halted it again six minutes into stoppage time. Play restarted 1 1/2 minutes later and the match was played until conclusion in the ninth minute of added time.

“CONCACAF condemns the discriminatory chanting,” the regional governing body of North and Central America and the Caribbean said in a statement. “Security staff in the stadium identified and ejected a significant number of fans, and the referee and match officials activated the FIFA protocol. ... It is extremely disappointing that this matter continues to be an issue at some matches.”

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter and players were hit by debris while celebrating Gio Reyna's goal that built a two-goal lead.

“That was unfortunate because we want a really competitive game, we want a great atmosphere but we don’t want to get things thrown at us,” Berhalter said. “It’s unsafe and someone can get hurt.”

Last year's semifinal at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was stopped by Salvadoran referee Iván Barton in the eighth minute of a scheduled 12 minutes of stoppage time with the U.S. ahead 3-0.

CONCACAF issued a statement the next day that it “strongly condemns the discriminatory chanting by some fans,” which it said “has no place in our sport.” The regional governing body did not appear to announce any disciplinary action.

The Mexican Football Federation last month challenged financial penalties totaling 100,000 Swiss francs ($114,000) imposed by FIFA for incidents at two games at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. FIFA imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs fine with an additional 50,000 francs to be spent on a campaign educating fans.

FIFA has repeatedly held the Mexican soccer federation responsible, handing out fines and closing stadiums for games after incidents in qualifying matches for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and for Olympic qualifying.

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