ESPN and Univision both aired the gay slur "puto" chanted by Mexico fans during their country's World Cup match against the Netherlands.
Bob Ley read this statement about the chant before the match:
This is a long-standing tradition at Mexican national team matches. The word is an anti-gay slur in Spanish. Here at the World Cup this has become a bit of an international issue. FIFA has looked into it. Mexican officials have acknowledged the impossibility of policing the conduct and language of tens of thousands of fans. By way of background and information, you should know that ESPN does not control the audio and video of the international feed.
There is some misinformation and misdirection here. First, the "long-standing tradition" used to defend the practice is all of 10 years old. By this logic, the Washington Redksins - which have been around for for 82 years - should be beyond reproach.
Also, while ESPN in fact does not control the international feed, they do control what is broadcast over their air. They could easily mute the audio for a second when they know the slur is coming (and generally, they do know when it's coming). They choose not to do this. Some have argued ESPN has no control over the audio. There is no chance in hell lawyers signed a contract with FIFA that did not allow them to mute words that would put them in deep trouble with the FCC.
While ESPN offered no disagreement with the slur in their statement, Univision was clear about its opposition in this statement read on the air and provided to GLAAD, which has been working with both networks on the issue:
We recognize that during the game there may be language, or chants, from some fans that are offensive to some members of our television audience. Although we realize this can happen in any televised sporting event, we do not, in any case, condone or endorse the use of such language. Univision Communications supports a World Cup that is inclusive, one that celebrates the diversity of the sport we love and can be enjoyed by all - absent what can be the hurtful consequences of certain words. In this regard, we strive to make sure that our own coverage and commentary is respectful and inclusive of all, including the gay community. This is our commitment to our audience, our community and our partners.
Both ESPN and Univision have a strong recent history with the LGBT community. No doubt they would prefer the FIFA feed not have audio of these slurs. But they weigh their options and decide not to mute or bleep the slurs. Its their choice, but they shouldn't hide behind FIFA about it. Yeah, it would probably make the broadcast a little disjointed, but I bet if it was "the N word" the fans were chanting they'd do it. Just my guess.