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LAFC fans chanted gay slur at MLS playoff match. Club is ‘disappointed.’

At one point an estimated 80% of the fans at the LAFC match sent the gay ‘puto’ slur booming throughout the stadium.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles FC
LAFC fans cheered for their club in September with no reported incidents of anti-gay chants.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Update Nov. 2 1:45pmPT:

LAFC President and Owner Tom Penn and Josef Zacher, President of the 3252 released the following joint statement:

The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and The 3252 Independent Supporters Union will not tolerate the offensive goal kick chant at Banc of California Stadium. We are disappointed and upset that it resurfaced last night at our match and understand we have work to do.

The chant has no place in our City or Stadium and does not represent who we are as a Club. It is our priority to work together to develop new processes and procedures to eliminate this chant from our Stadium in 2019.

LAFC and The 3252 are committed to creating an inclusive, welcoming and safe experience at Banc of California Stadium for all fans. Any fans identified as participating in this offensive chanting or other prohibited acts, will be removed from the stadium and permanently banned.

We are proud of the passionate community we have built in Los Angeles, and together we will win in the stands.

To be clear, this is exactly what the club said before that it was going to do when this happened. Yet no one was removed from the match last night.

No matter how much front-office executives with MLS, LAFC, the Galaxy and every other club never want this to happen again at an MLS match, it is going to happen again. Period. In the offseason it will be up to MLS to figure out exactly how to handle this. FIFA has forced entire national teams to play matches in empty stadiums due to racist fans.

FIFA also had a policy during the Confederations Cup that mandated a stoppage of a match, an announcement, and if the slurs continued the match could be completely abandoned, or stadiums cleared. It is time for MLS to implement league-wide policies the demonstrated a true dedication to eradicating this chanted slur. Because so far this “don’t do it or we’ll kick you out” approach is working at times, but it is not a permanent solution.

Update Nov. 2 9:45amPT:

LAFC Pride Republic, the LGBTQ fan group of LAFC, released this statement to Outsports:

Working “shoulder to shoulder,” LAFC executives and players, the 3252, and Pride Republic eliminated offensive chanting throughout the regular season. After quick action by the team and supporter groups, the chant disappeared for 20 home games at Banc of California Stadium. That is an impressive accomplishment for our inaugural season and it’s one we are all proud of.

But even with that initial success, the team and supporter groups knew that this issue could resurface. Last night, unfortunately, it did. LAFC fans exhibited a range of unsportsmanlike behaviors, from chanting to throwing things at the opposing team. LAFC executives reached out immediately when the chanting began, in the final few minutes of the game. They emphasized their intent to keep working on this stubborn issue, which has been a thorn in the side of the entire MLS for far too long.

We look forward to working with the team, our fellow LAFC supporters, and fellow LGBTQ supporter groups throughout the league to eliminate the chant for good in the 2019 season. And we call on the MLS to show some real leadership on this issue, beginning right now, in the post-season. Videos, talking points, and “policies” are not enough: there have to be significant penalties imposed for this behavior at the league level in order to eradicate it for good.

Previously:

Soccer fans are at it again. Fans of LAFC sent the anti-gay “puto” chant ringing through Banc of California throughout their team’s playoff match against Real Salt Lake Thursday night. Real Salt Lake beat LAFC, 3-2, to eliminate the home team from the playoffs.

According to Julia Poe, a freelance writer covering the game for Pro Soccer USA, fans in the south end of the stadium chanted the slur at least 10 times throughout the match, it was chanted several times by about half of the stadium, and Poe estimated that about 80% of the fans chanted the slur around the 80th minute of the match.

This same exact anti-gay chant happened in LAFC’s inaugural home game earlier this year, and everyone was assured it wouldn’t happen again. Of course, it did. It always does.

Major League Soccer and game management did not take any other action during the match. The match was halted when beer cans were thrown onto the pitch, but there was no stoppage for the use of the hateful slur.

The behavior of the fans violated virtually every piece of the MLS Fan Code of Conduct.

At one point a reminder that the chant was banned flashed on the JumboTron. According to Poe, one of the loudest anti-gay chants of the night came right after the Jumbotron flashed the warning about the language. It seemed the fans wanted to make it perfectly clear that they didn’t give a damn about the ban.

Various people also reported the slur on Twitter:

For their part, ESPN commentators did address the slur and said that engineers were working to mute the sound. ESPN should now be on notice that any assurance they might get from clubs or MLS that this chant won’t happen should be ignored. ESPN and all broadcasters should have a plan in place to mute crowd sound during kicks, which is when the chant arises.

As we have said, and we will continue to say, at Outsports, there is only one way to put an end to this behavior. Make clubs play in front of empty stadiums. Ban all of the fans from a match or two. LAFC fans made it perfectly clear tonight, as have other MLS fans and fans of various South American and Central American soccer teams, that they will not stop because of some warnings.

When you have half of the stadium chanting the slur, despite warnings, on multiple occasions, and 80% of the fans chanting the slur in unison, the entire stadium is culpable.

Make LAFC play its home opener in 2019 in front of an empty stadium. There is absolutely no other appropriate response from Major League Soccer. This is the only way to send a message to all fans that this will truly not be tolerated. Anything else — ANYTHING else — is simply money-hungry pandering.