The 2026 World Cup, the Mexican Federal Government, FIFA and the infamous shouting among Mexican fans seem to be intertwined in a complex story of possible blackmail in relation to the World Cup to be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Last week, specifically on June 18, FIFA announced a sanction notice against the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) for “homophobic shouting” that Mexican fans usually chant every time a goalkeeper of the opposing team takes a kick from the goal.
The sanction, due to the recurrent attitude of the Mexican fans, means that the Mexican national soccer team must play behind closed doors its first two matches in the qualifying rounds for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. It must also pay a new fine of 60,000 Swiss francs (approximately $65,000).
The rigor with which FIFA has treated the FMF was criticized by Mexicans, but the most serious questioning of the world soccer governing body came for sanctioning a “homophobic shout” in the stadiums, but at the same time taking the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a country where homosexuality is openly condemned.
From this, several doubts arose, among them whether FIFA really cares about the rights of homosexuals or discrimination in general. According to Mexican sports journalists, through unofficial leaks, there is a possibility that FIFA’s hardness towards Mexico was due to fiscal and tax issues and not so much to concerns about discrimination in the stadiums.
Pressuring the FMF?
The first sports program to denounce the alleged pressure from FIFA against the FMF was Reacción en Cadena. From there on, several important local media outlets echoed the news.
According to reports, FIFA is allegedly pressuring the Mexican Soccer Federation to lobby the Federal Government headed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) to exempt the organization from paying taxes on the proceeds of the 2026 World Cup.
According to El Universal, a Mexican newspaper founded in 1916 and one of the most representative newspapers in all of Mexico, “The severity with which FIFA has punished Mexican soccer for the permanence of the [homophobic chant] in its stands is not only due to an attempt to set precedents in international football. In fact, the reason would rather have to do with blackmail.”
This is where the political game comes in. According to the allegations, the previous Peña Nieto administration and FIFA agreed to a tax exemption to organize the most important competition in world soccer, along with Canada and the United States.
Of course, hosting such an important tournament entails a series of benefits for the hosts, which is why FIFA historically tries to agree with countries to reduce or eliminate tax burdens in order to organize the tournament and generate the highest possible profits.
In the Brazil 2014 World Cup, for example, FIFA reached an agreement with Brazil to avoid paying taxes. Both the country and the organization benefited from this agreement. In fact, it was estimated that the organization saved some 322 million euros ($384,000,000).
However, the arrival of AMLO to the presidency changed everything. According to reports in Reacción en Cadena, the Mexican federal government does not recognize the previous agreement reached during Peña Nieto’s administration. In addition, the economic policies of the current leftist Mexican president are characterized by punishing companies through taxes, and FIFA would not be an exception.
According to Mexican sports journalists, FIFA would be exerting pressure and blackmailing mechanisms by setting up a crusade against Mexico and the FMF, leaving the country internationally as homophobic and, in addition, threatening to change the hosting country during the 2026 World Cup due to the fiscal policies of López Obrador’s government.
The allegations are serious. However, the journalists of the Reacción Cadena program did not show any evidence or documents to validate the accusations.
FIFA condemned the allegations in a commentary for El American. Below is the full message from the body:
FIFA strongly rejects these unfounded accusations. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee is a judicial body that takes all its decisions in full independtly and in accordance with the Disciplinary Code, as was the case with the sanction imposed last week on the Mexican Football Federation.
To suggest that this decision would be linked to any other matter is totally unfounded and erroneous, as the rationale for the sanction have been widely recognized and relate to FIFA’s zero tolerance policy towards any form of discrimination.FIFA’s comment on the accusations from Mexico
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was asked on June 24 during a press conference about the case of alleged FIFA blackmail against the FMF. The president denied having any knowledge of the documents, but stressed his position of not exempting FIFA from paying taxes to organize the World Cup.