The opening of Banc of America Stadium, with LAFC’s first MLS match in club history, was marred by homophobic chants.
The club made sure its second match in the stadium was not a repeat.
Before and during Saturday’s match against FC Dallas, LAFC made several efforts to curb the behavior. Before the match, team executives wore rainbow scarves and read statements condemning the actions.
“During the national anthem, two of the black and gold flags on the field were replaced by rainbow flags,” reported Scott Schmidt, editor of ThisIsWestHollywood.com. “Unofficial rainbow flags appeared in the 3252 Section and and a rainbow Stars and Stripes was flung behind the stadium’s northwest corner flag.”
Last week the club made it clear that anyone caught engaging in the homophobic “puto” chant would be removed from the match and possibly banned from the stadium.
Schmidt, who is a long-time soccer fan and has been writing about LGBTQ issues in sports for years, formerly on his blog Boi From Troy, was at the match and said he did not hear the chant from a single fan. He sees LAFC’s actions as a great sign from the team.
“Such swift and clear reactions show that Los Angeles’ newest sports team means business and wants to welcome all to their extended family. Let’s hope they keep up the good work on and off the field!”
It’s a strong response by the team, no doubt. Yet if the chant surfaces again, the team needs to be ready and willing to stop the match and address the chant publicly and immediately. And if that doesn’t work, clear the stadium.
So far, so good, which is a great sign. Hopefully the team and league are prepared to go the distance on this.