Football's world governing body FIFA and the Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), are set to deal with issues of death threats, racism and attempts to physically harm directed to members of the T&T football team at the ongoing CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.
Angry Mexican fans hurled racial slurs and threw bottles at the T&T players during a Group A encounter between T&T and Mexico at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, USA on Saturday. This situation was further exacerbated by a clash between Mexican winger Hirving 'Chucky' Lozano, goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and defender Alvin Jones at the end of the first half which resulted in Lozano being rushed to the hospital with a suspected injury to the head.
The game ended in a goalless draw as coach Angus Eve employed a counter-attacking strategy that, not only frustrated the tournament's defending champions, but prevented them from scoring.
Eve, yesterday confirmed to Guardian Media Sports that because of death threats to him and his players- Phillip and Jones, there has been heightened police presence at the hotel where the team is currently based.
The T&T Football Association has since reacted to this development by writing to both FIFA and the CONCACAF and has since received a promise that something will be done about it soon, the coach said.
Eve, a former national player, did not have this experience during his five years of playing for T&T at the Gold Cup, and in reliving the horrifying experience said they were outnumbered in terms of support at the stadium. However, the Mexican fans became very angry when their team could not score, so they started chanting racial slurs, throwing bottles at the players on the touchline and even shouted death threats.
"I must admit that I felt a bit bad for my players, and though there would normally be a police presence at our hotel, there was a heightened presence because of the death threats," Eve explained.
Eve in the post-match interview said the match was stopped three times because of the crowd's behaviour, noting: "At the third time I felt the referee should have stopped the match and awarded it to us because we have to stamp out this type of behaviour in the game."
To date, the T&TFA football page has been littered with threats and abuse from Mexican fans, with many also directed to Jones and Phillip. Phillip has since apologised to Lozano, saying there was definitely no intention to cause harm and later wished the Mexican player a speedy recovery.
On Sunday, Guardian Media Sports got a glimpse of some of the things that were said on the TTFA football page. Among the comments were: " Y'all some of the nastiest people I've ever seen play soccer. Y'all just go against Mexico to try and injure them. We're starting a petition to lick y'all out of the Gold Cup. Y'all aren't worth it"; "y'all some hoes for what cha did to Chucky Lozano"; "You will pay for Chucky Lozano you monkeys,".
On Monday, the president of the T&T Olympic Committee Brian Lewis, said he was angry when he heard about it initially.
Lewis who is also chairman of the Sport Integrity Global Alliance as well as the Gender Race-Inclusion and Diversity Standing Committee said: "What I was told it was trolling, but obviously it was racist, outright racism, the term used, the 'N' word, monkeys.
We can't hide from it, the fact that it is something that I have raised on more than one occasion, about the issue of racism in global sport. In April the T&TOC joined a boycott of social media for a weekend in protest of racism, racial activities taking place on social media. So I was initially angry because even though you're aware of it when it happens in an open way, it is triggering."
Meanwhile, a news release from the TTFA on Monday states: "The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association strongly condemns the discriminatory actions, racist comments and threatening messages directed at our players, staff, supporters and country following the Senior Men's National Team 0-0 result versus Mexico on 10th July 2021. Discrimination and racism have no part in our game and our society. Official reports have been lodged with CONCACAF and we are working with them to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of the team is maintained. These actions are rooted in division, so it is paramount that we unite to stamp them out. The Fight Back is Against Racism and Discrimination."
TTFA, Concacaf condemn racist attacks on T&T team
By Joel Bailey (T&T Newsday).
THE TT Football Association (TTFA), as well as Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football), have both condemned verbal attacks on the T&T men’s team during and after Saturday’s goalless draw against Mexico in the opening match of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
It was played at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.
Referee Ricardo Montero stopped play in the 86th minute, as well as the sixth minute of second-half injury time (90th plus six) because of chants from the Mexican fans about the T&T team.
The TTFA, in a post on its Facebook page, wrote, “(We) strongly condemn the discriminatory actions, racist comments and threatening messages directed at our players, staff, supporters and country following (Saturday’s game).”
The local governing body for football said it was working with Concacaf to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the team.
“These actions are rooted in division, so it is paramount that we unite to stamp them out.”
Concacaf, in a Twitter post, said, “Some of the comments in response to this post (the starting line-ups for both T&T and Mexico on Twitter) are disgraceful. We stand with the
TTFA in condemning them. Racism has no place in our game or in society and social media companies must do more to regulate this on their platforms.”
T&T coach Angus Eve, during the post-game media conference, said, “We need to stamp these behaviours out of sport.”
He said the T&T team should have been awarded full points.
In June, Mexico were ordered by the world’s governing body FIFA to play their first two home matches, in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Qualifiers, behind closed doors – against Jamaica (September 2) and Canada (October 7). The Mexican federation were also fined US$73,000 after fans used a homophobic chant during a pre-Olympic tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico earlier this year.
CONCACAF will allow Mexico fans at next match despite anti-gay chant
CONCACAF is "extremely disappointed" but has confirmed fans can attend Mexico's next Gold Cup match against Guatemala despite earlier reports saying the game could have been played behind closed doors due to the reoccurrence of an anti-gay chant from El Tri supporters.
Mexico's scoreless draw against Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was marred by repeated use of the chant, forcing the referee to temporarily halt play in the 87th and 94th minutes.
The chant is often heard at Mexico games when an opposing goalkeeper runs up to take a goal kick.
"CONCACAF is extremely disappointed at the discriminatory language chanted by some Mexico fans during their Gold Cup match against Trinidad and Tobago at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, July 10," the federation said in a statement.
"The 'goalkeeper chant' was heard despite a significant CONCACAF anti-discrimination campaign delivered in recent weeks and extensive efforts by [Mexico's soccer federation] to make clear that it is unacceptable."
CONCACAF also called reports that fans would be barred from Wednesday's game between Mexico and Guatemala at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas "a misunderstanding."
"Despite some reports to the contrary, this match will go ahead as scheduled with fans in attendance. CONCACAF will continue to operate its What's Wrong Is Wrong antidiscrimination campaign and, should it be necessary, will activate protocols which include ejecting fans if they engage in discriminatory behavior and suspending the match," the statement read.
Mexico's soccer federation (FMF) also released a statement condemning the behavior.
"We strongly reject any discriminatory act or conduct and we are calling on all those involved to stop these types of manifestations on and off the field," the statement said.c
FMF president Yon de Luisa had admitted the possibility of Wednesday's game having no fans earlier on Monday.
The chant has been heard at recent games involving Mexico's teams, including at matches vs. the Dominican Republic and the United States during the CONCACAF men's pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in March, which yielded a punishment from FIFA playing its next two official home games behind closed doors.
It is expected that the senior men's national team would serve that punishment in its first two games of World Cup qualifying in September and October. However, FIFA did not specifically state which of Mexico's national teams would do so, opening the door for the senior women's side being forced to serve part of the punishment.
The anti-gay chant in question has been an ongoing issue for the FMF for nearly two decades. Following an initial investigation from FIFA at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Mexico has been fined 15 times since 2015 for behavior from fans in the stands. An update to FIFA's Disciplinary Code allowed FIFA to levy bigger penalties for repeat offenders, culminating in a potential ban from competitions including the World Cup.
Efforts have been made by the FMF to curb the chant, including a mass media campaign and PSA videos at stadiums before and during national team matches.