Yet again, soccer fans have brought a homophobic slur to a major soccer match. Fans at the Atlanta United’s first-ever Major League Soccer match over the weekend chanted the gay slur “puto” during particular moments in the match.
The use of the slur has been popularized by Mexican soccer fans and has spread across Latin America. The chanting of the slur is intended to throw the goalie off his mark by likening him to gay men. Its very nature is homophobic.
Some have claimed that the chant isn’t anti-gay or homophobic, but it is specifically the term for a male prostitute and is meant to degrade men who have sex with men.
“Calling football players ‘puto’ is not just about making them miss their kick, it’s a way of degrading their masculine abilities and saying they’re not real men,” Luan Jacobo Hernández, president of Colectivo Sol, a Mexican LGBT-rights group, told Vice.
Atlanta United was formed in 2014 and began play in MLS this year. The club is owned by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.
The club has issued a statement condemning the chant and promising to take action, according to the Chicago Tribune and LGBTQ Nation:
“Atlanta United does not support or condone the use of offensive language. We strive to foster a positive, enthusiastic and inclusive environment for all fans, and inappropriate chants have no place at our matches. Fans found to be participating in this behavior will be subject to removal from the building.”
When asked how Atlanta United would monitor such chants, the team told Outsports: “We are working directly with supporters to educate them on our views and to develop alternative chants. We will be working with security to elevate monitoring and enforcement in stadium.”
Major League Soccer is going to have to do something about this. It’s not the first time this chant has crept into their matches. If the slur being used was racist in nature, they would clear the stadium and have people charged with hate crimes.
Until Major League Soccer and other international organizations start doing the same, the Mexican soccer fans, and others following their lead, are not going to stop.
Your move, MLS and Atlanta United.