LAFC’s penultimate match of 2021 ended with a tie and the chanting of the anti-gay slur “puto” that rang through half the stadium.
The club is now taking additional steps to start the 2022 season differently.
Today LAFC has announced it’s teaming up with the LGBTQ fan group Pride Republic, as well as The 3252 — the club’s largest official fan group — to take steps they hope will curb the use of the slur at Banc of California Stadium. Those efforts will included additional messaging about the chant, increased security and both ejections and stadium bans.
The new measures will be rolled out at its first home match at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday, against the Colorado Rapids.
The chant is not remotely unique to LAFC matches. It has been heard at matches of various MLS clubs — including a Pride Night with the LA Galaxy — as well as countless international matches.
No doubt people across soccer wish they could make the “puto” chant just disappear, but it’s just not that easy for anybody. Every time progress is made, a bunch of fans show up at a match and screw it all up.
LAFC, as well as Major League Soccer, have realized that no matter how much progress they make, this ugly chant is still on the minds of some fans, and they need to remain diligent.
They want it to go away, and they are putting forth efforts to address it.
LAFC said that there will be increased security and monitoring for the slur, starting on Saturday, and that people who engage with the chant will face harsh punishments.
“Any fans identified as participating in offensive chanting or other prohibited acts will be removed from the stadium and permanently banned, and season members will have their membership revoked,” LAFC said in a statement.
This echoes what the club said last year after the chant at their November match. However, the club has declined to share with Outsports if it did in fact ban anyone after the chant at that match, saying it’s club policy to not give out specifics about punitive actions for a given match, though specific numbers of ejections from LAFC matches have been publicly shared at times in the past.
Regardless, LAFC and its fan groups have expressed over and over again that they want the chant to stop. And they’re trying.
“When Banc of California Stadium opened, we were told that ‘Everybody belongs in LA,’” said Paul Ruiz, Co-Founder of the Pride Republic, pointing to the diversity of his LGBTQ fan group as well as the fanbase at large. “When they hear ‘the chant,’ they don’t feel like they belong. Let’s stand ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ all the time. Don’t do ‘the chant.’ It causes real harm. Instead, use your voice to support this great Club and city, and sing loud and proud with the 3252!”
This isn’t remotely the only issue LAFC is facing. Outbreaks of violence have popped up from time to time, particularly when the club has played the crosstown rival Galaxy. This is, of course, on top of the general security issues many teams face across professional sports.
Fans sometimes do stupid things.
“We believe these new measures will help eliminate negative and hateful language during matches and together with the efforts of the Pride Republic and the 3252, will help ensure the fan experience in our stadium makes everyone feel they belong and are welcome,” LAFC Co-President Larry Freedman said in a statement.
Major League Soccer has a specific policy to address the chant, which can include suspension or even conclusion of the match if fans refuse to stop.