Mexico soccer fans will have to watch their squad’s World Cup qualification effort from home later this year thanks to their continued use of a homophobic chant during games. The ‘puto’ chant has been used regularly as a derisive chant toward opposing teams at Mexican national team games for a number of years. The term is a known homophobic slur.
The ruling means that Mexico’s first two World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica (Sept. 2) and Canada (Oct. 7) will be played in empty stadiums. It also prompted Mexican Football Federation president Yon De Luisa to again demand fans quit using the homophobic chant that had become a staple of sporting events and lucha libre shows across the nation.
“The ‘puto’ chant is discriminatory and is moving us away from FIFA competitions. To those who think it’s fun to yell it out, I have news for you. It’s not,” De Luisa said. “There are a million ways to show interest toward your team without discriminating. So we should focus on the positive ways. This is something that we are not proud of. This is not the image that we want to show from our fans and from our society to the rest of the world.”
International soccer governing body FIFA announced the decision in June at the recommendation of its Disciplinary Committee after a years-long push to eradicate the homophobic chant from Mexican national team matches. The chant popped up again as recently as March 2021, the same month North American soccer governing body CONCACAF launched an anti-discrimination initiative. Fans showered the field with hate speech during Mexico’s Olympic Qualification matches against the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.
In accordance with FIFA’s own Disciplinary Code, referees paused those matches in response to the chant’s use and issued verbal warnings to fans in attendance that further consequences would come if the chant persisted. Amended in 2019, FIFA’s Disciplinary Code advises on-field officials to pause games and issue a warning to crowds using hate speech during matches. If the conduct doesn’t stop, officials have the power to abandon the match.
The use of the chant also exposed venues hosting Mexican national team games to legal threat associated with the homophobic barbs. Four LGBTQ fans who attended the CONCACAF Gold Cup final between Mexico and the U.S. at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 2019 filed suit against the stadium’s owner, the Chicago Park District, on Tuesday. The suit alleges that the Chicago Park District violated the group’s civil rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act by doing nothing to stop Mexican fans from chanting the homophobic slur.
While FIFA’s ruling stands as the strongest yet in its attempts to curtail the use of hate speech at games, it remains to be seen if it will influence fans to abandon the chant. De Luisa hopes the chant’s demise comes sooner than later. “That is no longer a debate. If it is discriminatory, we should avoid it.”
Mexico Soccer: Previously on Towleroad
Photo courtesy of Santiago Llobet/Creative Commons