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Appiah reiterates importance of Mexico clash

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 By Tom Marshall

Guillermo Ochoa asks Mexico fans to stop goalkeeper chant

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Mexico fans could cost their team down the road, says Guillermo Ochoa.

CUERNAVACA, Mexico -- Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has called on El Tri fans in Estadio Azteca on Friday to desist from using the goalkeeper chant that has caused the Mexican federation (FMF) to be sanctioned on multiple occasions by FIFA, who have ruled it to be anti-gay.

Ochoa said on the eve of El Tri's crucial World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica that the team would be affected if FIFA forces it to play in an empty stadium further down the line.

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"We have to take each opportunity to tell the people to create consciousness, as the federation has for a while," said Ochoa in a press conference in Cuernavaca. "We know the chant is not about offending anyone, but there are people that see it like that and we could be affected."

"I believe people want to continue watching the national team in its stadium, we want the people there supporting us and the federation is searching for the best way to get that message across," he continued.

Despite efforts to curb the controversial chant during Mexico games, FMF officials admitted that Mexico's case is still under appeal at Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after the federation failed to reach an agreement with FIFA last week in Lausanne, according to a report by ESPN Mexico.

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The FMF was fined 30,000 Swiss francs ($30,600) by FIFA back in October for "[anti-gay] chants from supporters" during El Tri's home match in Estadio Azteca on Sept. 6 against Honduras.

The issue first came to the surface during the 2014 World Cup, when an anti-discrimination group reported it to FIFA, who cleared the FMF and Mexico fans of improper conduct.

The FMF launched the campaign "Embraced by Soccer" one year ago to ask fans not to engage in discriminatory behavior, although the goalkeeper chant has continued to be heard at both national team and Liga MX games since.

Mexican writer and journalist Juan Villoro launched an attack on the nature of the chant in an interview with ESPN Mexico last year.

"It's a big deal because the chant is certainly an atrocity," said Villoro. "It's not a chant Mexicans should be proud of; it is clearly [anti-gay]."

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.

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