MLS Action Steps: Eliminating a Certain Homophobic Goal Kick Chant

Last week I addressed updating the MLS Fan Code of Conduct to specifically include homophobic and transphobic language. This week I address a far too prevalent bit of language used by soccer supporters.

It’s a word that I’ve been hearing almost since when I first became a soccer fan, and it’s always bothered me but seemed to be too ingrained in the culture to be able to do anything about. But more and more as I talk about it with fellow fans, they see that there’s a pretty shocking practice that has become commonplace upon goal kicks.

The Houston Chronicle’s Jose de Jesus Ortiz named the issue in his Colin Clark coverage last month:

MLS…has not curbed or even spoken out against the tradition of fans screaming a vulgar Spanish gay slur each time the opposing goalkeeper takes a goal kick. A group of Dynamo supporters has embraced the tradition, which originated in Mexico and is common at many MLS stadiums.

The word is “puto” and put quite simply it is considered the worst slur against a gay person that is possible in many cultures. It is the word that New Yorker Leslie Mora heard as she was severely beaten by two assailants with a heavy belt buckle as she left a Queens gay club in the summer of 2009. It is a word several states use to define hate crimes. It’s a word that has no place in soccer.

Again, this word is sadly ingrained in soccer culture, and it will take more than Major League Soccer to take a stand. CONCACAF, FIFA, and other leagues in the United States have a part to play in educating fans as to how inappropriate and unacceptable it is.

And that’s the key: education. Many people probably use that chant with a lack of awareness as to what it means, or what it means to other people. But just as we would find it unacceptable to use slurs against any group as part of a chant, it’s time to take a stand now and work to get “puto” out of soccer.

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