Update: Los Angeles Galaxy spokesperson Chris Glidden sent Outsports the following statement.
During the match, fans chanted the offensive and unacceptable homophobic slur. We unequivocally condemn the use of this slur or any type at our matches. Security was able to identify a few individuals using the chant and remove them from the stadium during yesterday’s match. Any individuals that chant this offensive slur at StubHub Center will be removed from the facility immediately and subject to a stadium ban.
Going forward, our staff will be vigilant in order to continue to identify and eject any individuals that use this chant – or any hateful or discriminatory speech – from StubHub Center.
Original article: It’s been bad enough that soccer fans have had to endure the homophobic “puto” chant at matches involving the Mexican National Team, Atlanta United FC, Los Angeles FC and other clubs over the last couple of years.
Homophobic fans set a new low on Wednesday night.
During the L.A. Galaxy’s match against FC Dallas, the anti-gay “puto” chant rang through the StubHub Center over and over and over again throughout the match.
Outsports has confirmed this with various sources who were at the game.
Adding insult to injury, it was the club’s “Pride Night,” designed specifically to welcome members of the LGBTQ community to the sports world that has for so long felt like an unwelcoming place for gay and bisexual men.
Yes, you read that right. Homophobic chants echoed throughout an LGBTQ Pride Night at a Major League Soccer match.
Kevin Baxter, the sports columnist and soccer expert for the Los Angeles Times, said he did not personally hear the slur, but he told Outsports that multiple colleagues reported to him that they did in fact hear the slur chanted throughout the match.
“I thought we were past this, especially in MLS,” Baxter said. “It’s really embarrassing and hurtful — more so on a night set aside to celebrate pride at the stadium where the first gay professional athlete in American history made his debut.”
Baxter is referring to Robbie Rogers, the soccer player who came out in 2003 and went on to win the MLS Cup in 2004 with the Galaxy.
As far as we know, Galaxy fans do not have a history of this behavior at their matches.
This moment represents a reckoning for Major League Soccer. For years we have heard about policies and statements. We have seen rainbow scarves and inclusion videos.
Yet these insidious chants, which fans know perfectly well are homophobic in nature, persist.
And this time, it’s personal. This time it’s a hate crime on our turf, a Pride Night designed to welcome our community to a sports world long held as inaccessible to us.
This time we were met with pure disgust.
It is time for Major League Soccer to choose whether it is going to end this behavior or equivocate on it. There is no longer a middle ground — Fans chanting homophobic slurs during an LGBTQ Pride Night have forced the league’s hand.
Now the league must choose.
If MLS is truly on the side of acceptance and inclusion, it must issue a two-step procedure to handle these issues. No more statements, no more scarves. This mandates real action.
The first time during a match any league or team employee, including officials, hears the “puto” chant, the game officials must stop the match. Team or league representatives should address the fans with a warning and ask them to identify anyone who has chanted the slur. Those people must be removed, their game tickets withdrawn, and any season tickets revoked.
After the game re-commences, if the slur is chanted again, the stadium must be cleared of all fans and the match completed in front of an empty stadium.
Anything short of this policy by MLS can be construed as Major League Soccer giving a giant green light to this abhorrent behavior continuing, because without drastic action it’s not going to stop.
We have tried it their way for a while. MLS’s “whack-a-mole” approach to this behavior has clearly not worked if the slur is heard throughout the stadium on a night intended to demonstrate LGBTQ inclusion, in a city held up as a beacon of hope for our community.
Let me repeat: If MLS does not adopt a fire-and-brimstone policy toward the “puto” chant, and if the league does not implement it immediately, the league is condoning the behavior.
Soccer organizations have adopted this empty-stadium policy to combat racism for many years.
And I’m sorry, but some lovely inclusion videos don’t erase the harm of stadiums chanting slurs.
Major League Soccer is at a crossroads. Now it must act in the most demonstrable way possible or accept that these chants will continue.