While FIFA’s recent disciplinary code changes meant to address racist abuse from supporters in the stands, the updated rules have already been called to action this month to combat homophobia, first in France and now in Brazil.
On Sunday, Brazilian referee Anderson Daronco stopped a match between São Paulo and hosts Vasco da Gama after Daronco detected homophobic chanting from the stands. Daronco asked Vasco manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo to speak to the crowd to squash the chanting:
This kind of fan behavior isn’t new to Brazil. Opposing fans often insult São Paulo and their supporters with homophobic language, including “viado,” a reference to Bambi that has become a stand-in for “faggot” in Brazil. In addition, FIFA fined Brazil’s federation for five instances of homophobic chanting at the 2018 World Cup.
This latest incident follows in the wake of a similar occurrence in an August 16 match in France’s second division between Nancy and Le Mans. There, referee Mehdi Mokhtari stopped the match over what he perceived to be homophobic chanting. During the stoppage, Mokhtari asked the Nancy players to instruct the fans to stop.
Per FIFA’s new rules, if the stoppage had not quelled the chanting, the referee could have escalated—first by stopping the match once again and waiting for the chants to cease and then, if that failed, handing the home team a forfeit. While no one really expects a referee to ever take that last step and hand out a forfeit, the two recent stoppages in France and Brazil do indicate that referees are willing to use their new powers to crack down on offensive chants.
Brazil’s Superior Sports Justice Court (SJTD) has an additional policy holding that, if reported by the match official (as it was by Daronco), the court could dock Vasco da Gama three points for the chants. Vasco beat São Paulo 2–0 in the match but could lose those points pending the STJD’s ruling, according to The Brazilian Report.
We’ll have to wait and see if match stoppages like this do anything to curtail offensive chants. Though as we’ve seen with the ineffective fines FIFA has, for instance, brought against with the Mexican national team over the infamous “puto” chant, the old strategy wasn’t working anyway. It’s certainly possible that the new emphasis on affecting the actual soccer on the field could prove more effective.