As fans of the Mexican national soccer team, in addition to fans from other countries, continue to defy hollow threats and use the gay slur “puto” as a stadium chant, some LGBT fans are sharing the pain it causes them.
Two fans reached out to Outsports in the last week, one from San Diego and the other from Oklahoma city, to share how it felt to be in a stadium of thousands of people chanting homophobic language.
The fan from Oklahoma City had heard about the controversy before, but it was only being there in the stadium that he finally understood the gravity of the thunderous chant:
I've been reading a lot of the articles posted lately about the horrible chant by Mexican soccer fans. While understanding the severity of it on the national scale, I had no idea how big of an issue it was.
Tonight I went to a friendly match between Pachuca and the OKC Energy. This match was in OKC, at the Energy FC stadium. As was expected, many Mexican fans were in attendance to see one of the largest soccer clubs in Mexico play in Oklahoma City.
I was shocked to hear the chant when the OKC Energy keeper was kicking the ball. Here we are in Oklahoma City and the Mexican fans are using the discriminatory chant in a friendly against a team in the US second division. This is when I realized how big of a problem this issue really is. It's not just the national team or in the Liga MX.
This chant is a part of Mexican soccer culture in general. It's engrained in their ways and it's something that only changes when BIG steps are taken to combat it. A simple message about equality and inclusion by CONCACAF before a match or empty threats by both CONCACAF and FIFA aren't enough. This issue goes much deeper into Mexican soccer culture than most people realize.
Start putting real pressure on them. Start having them play matches in empty stadiums. If they are at an away fixture and their fans continue the chant, call the game and count it as a loss for the team. Until real measures are taken that show just how serious of an issue this is, nothing will change. It's time for FIFA and CONCACAF to step up and really play ball. Until they do, sadly, nothing will change.
He estimated that about 20% of all the fans in the stadium, and about half of the fans of Mexico, participated in the problematic chant.
The pain this fan felt hearing the chant over and over and over again was reflected in the reaction by another gay fan, who was at the Mexico match in San Diego last weekend.
The husband of an American military service member, who feels the need to hide his relationship where he is stationed in the Middle East, he was equally appalled:
I wore my USA soccer jersey with rainbow numbers that US Soccer sold for Pride month to the match. After having a group of 30 or so Mexico fans coordinate a “puto” chant directly at us in the parking lot, I was afraid to turn around in my seat or look around the stands for fear of making eye contact with the wrong person.
Thinking about it makes me particularly emotional because I was attending with tickets I purchased through the San Diego naval base MWR office. I just returned from a trip to visit my husband stationed in the Middle East earlier this year where we constantly had to be vigilant about how we acted toward one another and who was around us. That’s not an experience I ever expected to have in 2017 America, much less California. But that’s the experience I relived again on Sunday.
This is the reality of stadiums and organizations like FIFA and CONCACAF allowing matches to be played as these chants pour out of the stands.
There are policies that organizations like Major League Soccer, CONCACAF and various cities and states have that should be shutting this all down. Matches should be suspended. Stadiums should be cleared. Fans should be banned from attending games. Until that all happens — until these organizations get serious about protecting LGBT fans and players from abuse — the fans from Mexico and other countries will continue to proudly harass all of us with their insolence.