Soccer fans will no longer be asking "Who was that masked man?" after the Mexican soccer federation (FMF) instituted a ban to halt the recent trend of players celebrating goals by donning masks, often ones similar to those used by professional wrestlers.
A Mexican federation official said the FMF adopted a policy two weeks ago calling for a yellow card for players who indulge in masked celebrations during matches. No player has yet drawn such an admonishment.
The practice came to the world's attention during the World Cup when Ecuadorean player Ivan Kaviedes celebrated a goal during his team's 3-0 victory over Costa Rica by pulling a yellow mask out of his shorts and putting it over his head.
"At the World Cup, an Ecuadorean pulled out a mask and FIFA was taken by surprise," FMF disciplinary commission head Arturo Yamasaki said. "A meeting of officials said this shouldn't be allowed, but it is not written."
"We are of the opinion that even if it is not [codified], it is a disciplinary issue," Yamasaki told reporters, and expressed confidence that the world body would adopt a formal ban at a meeting in October.
"This is not about prohibiting something, or trying to bother anyone," he said. "Sometimes such celebrations can bother the team the goal was scored against. They might feel they are being made fun of, even if it's not that way, so it's better to prevent any situations that might occur."
Players like Chiapas Jaguars' goalkeeper Omar Ortiz had a habit of celebrating goals by donning a mask similar to one worn by the pro wrestler known as "Blue Demon," and Gabriel Pereira of Mexico City's Cruz Azul squad did the same with a mask like that worn by "Mistico," another pro wrestler.
Professional wrestling is a highly popular spectacle in Mexico.
The new ban in Mexico has drawn some protests. Before their most recent match, all 11 Chiapas players took the field wearing wrestling masks, but were not sanctioned because the match had not yet started.