Mexico boss Osorio tries to dispel row over homophobic chant
Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio insists the country's fans do not aim to "generate violence" with a homophobic chant that could once again bring them into conflict with FIFA.
During the 1-1 World Cup qualification draw with the United States earlier this month at the Estadio Azteca, visiting goalkeeper Brad Guzan was subjected to shouts of 'puto' when he cleared the ball – a slur that has seen world football's governing body cite Mexico eight times over the past 18 months.
A new directive introduced for the Confederations Cup, where Mexico face New Zealand in Group A on Wednesday after a thrilling 2-2 draw against European champions Portugal in their opening match, gives referees the power to withdraw teams from the field and even abandon the game if offensive chants are identified and do not stop after a warning over the stadium public address system.
Despite regular punishment from the authorities, there remains apologists in Mexico who claim the 'puto' chant is more of a traditional football taunt than the homophobic abuse it stands as in the present context.
Colombian Osorio appeared to show sympathy with this viewpoint as he sought to play the role of mediator in a pre-match news conference at Fisht Stadium.
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) June 20, 2017
"In our group we always have a difference between facts and interpretations," he said. "It's true there are some sing-a-longs and shouts. We could debate about their meanings for some time.
"First, I am not Mexican, second I am proud to be Mexican coach and third I understand why the crowd sings along and I don't think the interpretation [by FIFA] is right
"I hope the Mexican Federation will tell FIFA this does not mean what they think it means.
"In other parts of the world there are chants that generate violence but I do not think this is like that."
The controversy may subside for the time being, as Mexico prepare to face a New Zealand side ranked 95 in the world before an expectedly sparse crowd in Sochi.
Nevertheless, Osorio spoke respectfully of El Tri's opponents, likening their spirit to that displayed by the country's most famous sporting export.
"We recognise in New Zealand a strong team with a very good in the aerial game," he said.
"In some regards they have that team spirit that represents not only New Zealand and their national soccer teams but also the All Blacks and their rugby teams.
"They are gentlemen, they compete well and hopefully we can match their determination to compete for every single ball.
"Hopefully at the end our talent can surprise them and it will be the factor to win the match."