Edmonton Journal

Bigoted chants halt final

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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 11/2 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 Ivan 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.”

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.

 ?? ?? Gregg Berhalter
Gregg Berhalter

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