Liga MX's Atlas to play next match with no fans for anti-gay GK chant

Liga MX side Atlas will play its next home game behind closed doors as punishment after fans repeatedly used an anti-gay chant in last week's match against Puebla.

During the Jan. 17 match at Estadio Jalisco, Atlas players pleaded with their fans to discontinue using the chant against the visiting goalkeeper. The referee halted the match as part of a three-step protocol implemented by the league to crack down on the use of the controversial chant.

The match concluded in a 1-0 win for Puebla, but the league ruled on Monday that Guadalajara-based side Atlas will host Club Tijuana on Jan. 31 with no fans in the stands.

In a statement on Monday, the club called it a "painful punishment" but said it is "against any type of discriminatory act, of which we call for the supporters to stop using such expressions which do not align with the values we promote."

The incident at Atlas is the latest relating to anti-gay chants in Mexican soccer. Earlier this month, Mexico and Monterrey defender Jesus Gallardo was suspended for two games by Liga MX for using an anti-gay slur during celebrations of Monterrey's 2019 Apertura title in Estadio Azteca in December.

After Monterrey defeated Club America on penalties to lift the title, Gallardo danced around the pitch after the final whistle and was caught on camera singing an anti-Club America chant with explicit anti-gay overtones.

The issue has been ongoing in Mexican soccer, with Mexico's football federation and Liga MX cracking down on the chant, of which FIFA has ruled anti-gay.

Mexico's league and federation implemented the three-step protocol similar to that of FIFA, with both fearful of not making Qatar 2022 if it occurs regularly during World Cup qualifying.

ESPN's Tom Marshall contributed to this report.