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Alexi Lalas questions refs stopping play in USMNT game for homophobic slurs: 'Rewards the bad behavior'

Former USMNT player and current analyst Alexi Lalas gave his take on refs stopping play in the USA-Mexico match Sunday after homophobic slurs were targeted at U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner.

The United States men's national soccer team took down Mexico, 2-0, in their Nations League match on Sunday night, but that wasn't the big story in the end. 

U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner was the target of homophobic slurs from the crowd, which eventually led to a stoppage of play on two occasions late in the match. 

Former USMNT player and current soccer analyst Alexi Lalas commented on the "discriminatory chanting" that was hurled Turner's way. 


"I don't know what the answer is, but it seems like stopping the game for 5-minute punishments actually rewards the bad behavior of the crowd by giving them a power over what happens in the field," Lalas posted to X over the USMNT's account saying why there was a halt in play. 


One X user tried giving a solution to Lalas' statement, saying a goal should be rewarded to the other team if chants like this occur. Lalas begged to differ. 

"No, it will give offenders in the stands the power to influence the game. To many, that is more intoxicating than the score."

Mexico fans shouted slurs at Turner during every goal kick, and despite warnings over the PA system in the arena, referees were forced to stop play to make it stop. 

This was a problem in last year's semifinal matchup between these two countries during Nations League, where similar homophobic chants were used. 

CONCACAF released a statement after the game regarding the situation. 

"CONCACAF condemns the discriminatory chanting in the final minutes of the Nations League Final between Mexico and the United States men's national teams," the statement read on X. "Security staff in the stadium identified and ejected a significant number of fans, and the referee and match officials activated the FIFA protocol. 

"CONCACAF in 2021 launched its What's Wrong Is Wrong campaign, through which it has consistently urged fans to cease the chant, with regular digital communications and significant in-stadium messaging before and during all CONCACAF events. It is extremely disappointing that this matter continues to be an issue at some matches, particularly in the context of the next two years presenting such a tremendous opportunity to grow the sport in our region. We will continue to urge fans to support their teams positively and with respect for the opposition and all participants in the game."

As for the game itself, USMNT captain Tyler Adams had a tremendous strike well out of Mexico's 18-yard box to put them on the board first. Giovanni Reyna would add a goal in the 63rd minute as well. 

It remains to be seen if Mexico will receive any punishment by CONCACAF for the incident, though it wasn't the team itself that were the offenders. 

The USMNT will look forward to their next match in June against Colombia. 

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