THE Mexican Football Association launched a campaign yesterday designed to combat homophobia in the soccer community.

The campaign, called Abrazados Futbol – or Embraced By Football in English – is the most vocal condemnation of homophobia yet made by the country’s peak body for soccer.

 “Embraced By Football is a collective effort that includes the whole family of Mexican soccer to promote respect for others and rejection of physical and verbal violence,” the campaign website reads.

A number of Mexican players set to play against Canada in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday are featured in the video, including Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, and PSV Eindhoven’s Hector Moreno.

“To us, differences are no obstacle. To us, we don’t discriminate. To us, we respect everyone’s opinion,” the players said in a YouTube video.

The campaign comes after homophobic chants from Mexican supporters at the 2014 FIFA World Cup made the country’s soccer community the subject of international criticism.

FIFA threatened to fine the Mexican Football Association (FA) for the behaviour of its supporters, who chanted “puto” – “faggot” in English – at opposition goalkeepers.

FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee eventually ruled there would be no punishment for Mexico’s FA.

However, this year Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay were each fined by FIFA for homophobic chanting by fans during World Cup qualifiers.

The new campaign is one among many initiatives from sporting bodies around the world attempting to combat homophobia on the sporting field.

In Australia, the Rainbow Laces campaign is set to begin, with the Rainbow Round 
of Sport to be played across sporting codes from tomorrow (Thursday, March 31) until Monday, April 4.

The 2015 international Out On the Fields study revealed widespread and pervasive homophobia in sporting communities – including how 80 per cent of gay sportspeople had witnessed homophobia in sport.

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