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Eve urges Concacaf to punish Mexico, as T&T players subjected to racist abuse and death threats

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team interim head coach Angus Eve called on Concacaf to ‘make an example’ of Mexico, after national footballers and officials were besieged with obscene, abusive messages, racist taunts and death threats, following the goalless draw between the two nations on 10 July 2021.

Mexico, the defending Gold Cup champions, could not find a way past the spirited Soca Warriors at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, while they lost their best player, Napoli attacker Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano, to injury in the 10th minute—after a bump by Trinidad and Tobago defender Alvin Jones inadvertently sent the Mexican on a collision course with goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Jesse Williams stands over Mexico captain Hector Herrera during 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup action at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on 10 July 2021.
(via TTFA Media)

As the game neared full-time, Mexican supporters chanted a derogatory slur for male prostitute when Phillip or Jones took spot kicks. Costa Rican referee Ricardo Montero stopped the game at least twice—in keeping with Fifa’s three-step protocol, passed on 25 July 2019, for ‘racist and discriminatory incidents’ within football.

However, Montero did not take the ultimate sanction of ending the affair, which might have forced Concacaf to award the three points to Trinidad and Tobago. Eve thinks the referee should have done just that.

“I thought that Concacaf could have taken the step to actually call off the match, because [the Mexican supporters] were persistent with it,” Eve told the TTFA Media. “[…] And it even extended to death threats and stuff; and they went up on social medial and posted a scenario that happened with [former Trinidad and Tobago international defender] Ancil Elcock decades ago. It is very unfortunate and it has no place in the game. 

“I think the tournament organisers should really make an example in this case.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago interim head coach Angus Eve reacts at the sidelines during his team’s goalless draw with Mexico at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on 10 July 2021.
(via TTFA Media)

Fifa’s three-step procedure allows referees, in the event of serious discriminatory incidents, to: 

  1. stop the match (followed by a stadium announcement with the necessary explanation and request for the discriminatory incident to stop); 
  2. suspend the match by sending the players back to the changing room for an appropriate period of time (followed by a stadium announcement with the necessary explanation and request for the discriminatory incident to stop); 
  3. abandon the match (followed by a stadium announcement with the necessary explanation and request to leave the stadium, in accordance with the instructions of the security personnel).

A Sporting News report noted that the FMF was fined on nine occasions for the infamous chant during the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign alone. Yet, fans persisted at the World Cup tournament itself.

In June 2021, Fifa fined the FMF US$65,000 and ordered the body to play its next two official home matches without supporters, as a result of homophobic chants by Mexican fans at Olympic qualifiers played in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Photo: Concacaf president Victor Montagliani (right) tries his hand at the steelpan during the opening of the TTFA Home of Football in Couva on 18 November 2019.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

And, ironically, Concacaf specifically warned Mexico fans about the derogatory chant on 1 June 2021 when the confederation launched an anti-discriminatory campaign entitled: ‘What’s wrong is wrong’.

“This campaign is a very important step in our efforts to eradicate the goalkeeper chant, and to make it absolutely clear that we oppose all forms of discrimination in football,” said Concacaf president and Fifa vice-president, Victor Montagliani. “Our aim is to educate and inform fans that even if their intention is not to offend, this chant does offend many people and has no place in the game. The Mexican Football Federation have themselves made it very clear that they want their fans to cease this chant and leave it in the past. 

“We fully support that message and will work alongside them, and other committed stakeholders including Fifa, to further promote football at all levels as a sport that is open and inclusive to all.”

El Tricolor then failed their very first test, at the weekend’s Gold Cup fixture.

Photo: Mexico forward Rogelio Funes Mori is lost in thought as referee Ricardo Montero stopped the game due to homophobic chants from the Mexico supporters during 2021 Gold Cup action between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago in Texas on 10 July 2021.

The Mexican response after the final whistle was even nastier, as countless racist taunts, threats and baseless accusations of bribing the referee were directed at Trinidad and Tobago players, officials and even, bizarrely, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC)—across all social media platforms, inclusive of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jones, a former Mucurapo East Secondary schoolboy famed for his brilliant long range goal that eliminated USA from the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, celebrated his 27th birthday on the eve of the Gold Cup opener. On his birthday picture, Mexico fans tallied over 1,000 abusive and often racist comments by the time of publication.

Some of his Soca Warriors colleagues who did not even get off the bench on Saturday received obscene messages that compared them to monkeys and animals, while Phillip and others resorted to putting their social media pages on private.

Jones said he did not want to say much about the furore other than to wish Lozano a speedy recovery.

“I’ll never go on to the football field to injure someone [as] this is how we as players feed [our] families,” Jones told Wired868. “I’ll never do that. I just don’t want to get distracted with the nasty comments. I just want to stay focused.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones (left) tries to stay close to Mexico attacker Jesus Corona during Gold Cup action at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on 10 July 2021.
(via TTFA Media)

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association issued a message today that ‘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,” stated the TTFA Media. “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 fightback is against racism and discrimination.”

Concacaf subsequently posted in support of the besieged TTFA: ‘Some of the comments in response to this post are disgraceful. We stand with the @TTFootballAssoc 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.’

Image: A snapshot of messages left on Alvin Jones’ IG page by Mexico supporters, in the wake of Trinidad and Tobago’s goalless draw with Mexico on 10 July 2021.

However, the governing body remains mute on possible sanctions against the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) for at least the ‘discriminatory language’ used by supporters during the game.

There was no official response from the Mexican football body to the racist abuse meted out to Trinidad and Tobago players and officials or the reoccurrence of the homophobic chant on the weekend.

Concacaf comprises 35 full members, 25 of which are from the Caribbean. However, for the first time in this millennium, the governing body for North American, Central American and Caribbean football teams is headed by a non-Caribbean official: Montagliani is Canadian.

On 9 October 2000, Trinidad and Tobago defender Ancil Elcock broke the leg of talismanic Mexico attacker Cuauhtémoc Blanco during a World Cup qualifier at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

The incident caused a row between the two nations as the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) insisted that its Trinidad and Tobago counterparts ban Elcock indefinitely and pay for Blanco’s hospital bills. Then TTFA special advisor and Fifa vice-president Jack Warner ignored the request.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain David Nakhid (left) tries to avoid a tackle from Mexico star Cuauhtemoc Blanco during the 1998 Concacaf Gold Cup.
(Copyright CONCACAF 2015)

The Fifa disciplinary committee subsequently fined Elcock 5,000 Swiss francs and banned him from playing organised football at any level for three months, along with a suspension for three World Cup qualifying games.

Elcock denied trying to intentionally injure Blanco and, on appeal, Fifa rescinded the domestic ban while the defender was ordered to miss just two qualifiers. 

Trinidad and Tobago did not take Elcock to Mexico for future international games, out of concern for his safety.

Eve had his own nasty run-in with Mexico as a player. On 25 April 2001, just six months after the Blanco incident, he was sent off for violent conduct after he struck Mexico player Marco Antonio Ruiz with his forearm, during a 1-1 draw at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.

Eve’s testimony, which was accepted by Fifa, was that Ruiz spat on him and racially abused him.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Angus Eve (right) is congratulated by teammate Ancil Elcock after scoring against Guatemala, during a 1998 World Cup qualifying fixture in Los Angeles on 8 December 1996.
Eve scored the lone goal in a 2-1 loss for T&T.
(Copyright AP Photo/Susan Sterner)

Relations between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago eventually thawed and the FMF invited the Men’s National Senior Team to friendly matches in 2015 and 2019. The Soca Warriors drew the first game, 3-3, under coach Stephen Hart, and lost the second, 2-0, under his successor Dennis Lawrence.

However, things are toxic again between El Tricolor and Trinidad and Tobago. And Eve wants Concacaf to address it.

Thus far, Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad has not commented on the furore.

Trinidad and Tobago return to action on Wednesday when they face El Salvador from 9.30pm at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco. Mexico tackle Guatemala later that night at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

 

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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15 comments

  1. Puto means bitch not make prostitute. Do some research if you’re going to be a journalist.

    • It’s still an insult.

    • Earl Best

      Here is your research, Steve.

      Maybe you can stick it somewhere where you’ll have fun. And I don’t mean on your wall!

      “Calling someone a puto, whether in a Spanish or mixed English–Spanish contexts, is very offensive. It is like calling someone a faggot. Using puto to call someone “weak” is also offensive, because it denigrates people who are gay by comparison. This pejorative connotation is why members of the Spanish-speaking gay community in the United States and Mexico have advocated for people to stop using the word, especially at soccer games.

      As with many English swear words (cf. bitch or fucker), puto can be used playfully and affectionately among close friends, but in a way that is very mindful of its homophobic valences.”

  2. Guys it’s too much of a coincidence that both Cuahutemoc Blanco and Chucky Lozano, the most expensive players of each of their respective squad were both injured by T&T. I wish Mexico had gone also for bans to the players involved, and not only against the referee.

    Your dirty soccer tactics will be closely looked at in your next matches. Thankfully your dirty tactics didn’t kill someone in the last match. Now Chucky Lozano is the most valuable player in the tournament, CONCACAF should place strong punishments against targeting star players like this.

    You didn’t see Messi, Neymar, or Mbappe with these kind of injuries, please change your tactics and win with fair play.

    • Lasana Liburd

      Trinidad and Tobago played Mexico 27 times. Two serious injuries from 27 games makes Trinidad and Tobago a dirty team? Are you also an anti-vaxxer by chance?
      Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ronnie Mauge suffered a broken leg against Mexico at the 2000 Gold Cup on 13 February 2000. That was the end of his international career.
      Mauge’s broken leg happened eight months before Blanco’s injury.
      By your logic, does that mean Mexico started the nasty play between the two nations?

      • Lasana Liburd, you lost 2-0 against El Salvador, enjoy your participation in Gold Cup, where the only thing accomplished was killing the most expensive player of the tournament. Your players clearly need more technique, and more bona fide. Ronnie Mauge, I couldn’t even find that dude, send me the video. I do have a video of a Trinitarian player trying to break Hirving Lozano’s neck, and another one of one of your players breaking Cuahutemoc Blanco’s knee. You must be feeling the side effects of your vaccine, you should go rest because you are delusional.

      • You just lost against El Salvador 2-0 in a UFC match, not really high quality soccer. Enjoy your short participation where the only objective accomplished was to injure the most valuable player of the tournament (Blanco, then Lozano). Seems like a pattern to me.

    • Based on your logic, the Soca Warriors have embarked on a political conspiracy to injure the best of Mexico’s players. Sooo how come they never injured Javier Hernandez, Francisco Palencia, Luis Hernandez and Jared Borgetti?

    • Mbappe was definately injured during the match with the Swiss. He was still better than most players, but he was injured.

  3. Instead of standing in solidarity with our National Team in the face of racial abuse, u folks are busy analyzing what Eve should or should not say. Victim blaming!

    • We can do both. And no one is blaming Eve for the abuse.

    • Focusing on Eve’s comments (which aren’t in any way over the line) is definitely victim blaming. I guess because we’re so adept at it that we don’t realize victim blaming doesn’t constitute blaming Eve for the abuse of the team.

  4. Fifa’s three step procedure doesn’t specify what happens after the third step. Is the match replayed, is it awarded to the victimised side?

    Eve didn’t quite call for a ban, but I agree he should have expressed his concern without commenting on what the officials should or shouldn’t have done.

  5. Earl Best

    I can only speak for me and I think it’s bad form for Angus to call for a Mexico ban; to me, it sounds as though he is trying to get to the Gold Cup through the back door.

    I don’t think that is what he is doing, mind you. Why would he not be genuinely concerned with the racism?

    I just think it can create that unfortunate perception and cloud the issue.

    • I agree. In fact, Hadad should be saying what Eve is saying and leave the Coach to keep the team focused during the tournament.

      That is if he (Hadad) believes this is an issue.