ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) — Mexico fans are trying out a new chant so the country’s federation avoids another FIFA fine.
Only time will tell, though, whether some of them won’t go back to the old one that got them into trouble in the first place.
Standing next to a golden-domed cathedral, Mexican fans visited the sites of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia on Friday and practiced a new chant — “eeeeeeee-ROO-si-ya,” the last part meaning Russia in Spanish — that they hope will keep the tournament hosts and organizers happy.
The modified version was introduced after national federation was fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000) for a chant by supporters considered to be homophobic during the opening game against Germany.
Mexico fans use the chant to intimidate opposing goalkeepers. FIFA considers it a slur, but many supporters argue it has no discriminatory intent.
Carlos Quezada, from San Luis Potosi in central Mexico, joined revelers at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and said he wasn’t certain fans would comply with the ban.
“It’s the way we are. When you tell Mexicans not to do something, they keep on doing it,” he said, but added that the Mexicans were keen to repay the kindness of their Russian hosts.
“People have been really, really nice to us, they have welcomed us everywhere. The Russians have been chanting for us — chanting ‘Mexico, Mexico’ — and it makes us feel like this is a second home.”
Mexico takes on South Korea in its second Group F match after a shock 1-0 win over Germany. The Koreans lost their opener 1-0 to Sweden.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said he intended to continue his attacking style, would stick with core players who beat Germany, and would not get carried away with the opening win.
“We hope it doesn’t happen, but there would be no shame in losing to South Korea,” the Colombian said. “We all have respect for them … No matter how prepared you are, the unthinkable can always happen in every game.”
Captain Andres Guardado echoed the sentiment, adding that the team had been hardened by frequent disappointments on the road to Russia — as the Mexicans vie for a quarterfinal spot, having been stopped at the last 16 in the six previous World Cups.
“Beating Germany was good for us. It strengthened our (winning) mindset. But we know how dangerous praise can be. But we’ve had so much criticism in the past … And in those very difficult moments we built this team … Thanks to those failures, we will stick to our dream and maybe, this time, it will be within reach.”
South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong said he was worried that expected high temperatures would favor the Mexicans. The forecast is for 34 C (93 F) on Saturday.
“The change in the weather will have a negative impact on us,” he said. “I haven’t seen much of the city, only what I could see on the bus coming into the city. But I noticed that it’s hot and it has large fields.”