An anti-gay chant and objects being thrown onto the field were the cause of a halt in the CONCACAF Nations League final between the United States and Mexico. The match was paused at the end of the second half in a game in which the USMNT went on to win 3-2 in extra time. For three minutes, the referee John Pitti kept the match from being played as players from both teams pleaded with the fans to stop their offensive chant.

The misbehavior continued into extra time. After Christian Pulisic scored the game-winning penalty and celebrations unfolded in the corner of the pitch, Gio Reyna was hit in the face by one of the mass amounts of cups, water bottles, and other projectiles being hurled onto the field. Reyna remained on the ground for several minutes before being escorted off the pitch by trainers. Luckily, he was able to return to the field for celebrations after the win. “Total lack of respect for what’s happening on the field and all effort that both teams are putting into the game. I think he’s going to be OK, but he did take something to the head, and it could have been a lot worse,” said United States head coach Gregg Berhalter regarding Reyna’s injury.

This match was the second occurrence of this misbehavior. In Mexico’s semifinal match versus Costa Rica, also held at Mile High Stadium in Denver, CO, a pause occurred due to the use of anti-gay language in chants. Several fans had been removed from the stadium in the prior incident.

CONCACAF has a protocol in place for such behavior. First, the announcer will make a public announcement calling for the immediate halt of chants. Second, the referee is expected to pause the game. Lastly, the referee holds the authority to send the players to the locker rooms and abandon the match. Mexico has a history of supporters using anti-gay chants as FIFA launched an investigation into chants used by Mexican supporters in an Olympic qualifying match in March 2021.

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