Last updateFri, 20 Jun 2014 1pm

Are Mexican fans guilty of homophobic chanting?

While Mexico’s soccer players are lauded for their heroics on the field, the army of fans that followed the team to Brazil face media scrutiny for using a popular chant that is regarded by many as a gay slur.

As occurs regularly in many Mexican soccer stadiums, fans have been chanting the word “puto” – Mexican slang for “fag” or “man whore” – every time an opposition goalkeeper takes a goal kick.  Fans argue the chant is not homophobic and more closely translated as “coward,” designed to put pressure on the goalie and make him duff his kick.

The word, however, is considered extremely offensive in the LGBT community and has prompted some broadcasters to lower crowd volume levels as goal kicks are taken during Mexican soccer games.

During the Mexico-Brazil game on Tuesday, Brazilian fans began to imitate their counterparts and use the “puto” chant as Mexican goalie Guillermo Ochoa took goal kicks. 

Following the game, the International Football Federation (FIFA) promised to investigate the chants, which have prompted critical articles in several leading publications in the United States and the United Kingdom.   Some wondered why Mexican soccer authorities,  players, coaches and the sports media have never started a campaign to eliminate the chant from games.

Without a precedent to go on, it is unclear how FIFA’s investigation will unfold.  The sport’s governing body has launched various anti-racism campaigns in recent years and has threatened to follow up by imposing sanctions on nations whose supporters display discriminatory behavior.  (Russia was given a suspended six-point deduction for the 2016 European Cup qualifying campaign after some of its supporters taunted black opposition players with monkey chants.)

FIFA is also investigating neo-nazi and fascist banners displayed by some Russian and Croatian fans during their opening World Cup games.

(Soccer experts inform us that the controversial “puto” chant was started by Chivas fans at its former home, the Jalisco Stadium.)