Mexico coach Miguel Herrera downplayed a homophobic chant that Mexican fans hurl at opposing goalkeepers during matches, arguing that it’s just a “folksy” part of the game, and is not being used in discriminatory fashion.
Herrera told Mexico’s Radio Red on Friday that fans who chant the word “puto” during Mexico games are not attempting to offend homosexuals.
“This is something that’s used to pressure the opposing team’s goalie…it’s something that we’re not really worried about,” Herrera said from Mexico’s training camp in Brazil.
“FIFA should be worried about more serious things,” the Mexican coach added in his interview with Radio Red.
Puto translates roughly into whore in English, though in Mexico the word is also used to insult gay people.
FIFA is currently investigating whether the chanting of this word by fans violates World Cup anti-discrimination rules. The organization could also levy economic sanctions against Mexico’s Soccer Federation if the use of this chant by Mexico fans continues.
PLAYFUL CHANT OR DISCRIMINATION?
The chanting of this four letter word came under FIFA’s radar during Mexico’s World Cup openers against Cameroon and Brazil. In the second match, Brazilian fans even copied the chant and directed it towards Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Of course, puto is not new to Mexicans. Soccer fans regularly chant the four letter word at local league matches and national team games, usually when the opposing team’s goalkeeper is about to make a kick-off.
However some soccer commentators in Mexico have argued that the chant reflects discriminatory attitudes towards homosexuals which are prevalent in Mexican society. They have suggested that the Mexican Soccer Federation launch a campaign that would encourage fans to stop using the homophobic slur.
Mexico’s National Commission to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) also weighed in on the debate earlier this week, issuing a scathing statement against the use of this chant, and urging FIFA to take actions to stop fans from using it.
“To say that this is a tradition, that football directors cannot control…is not only a mistake,but it is irresponsible and does not contribute to the respect of human rights,” read the statement issued by CONAPRED.
“The chanting of puto is an expression of rejection and disrespect [for homosexuals]. It is not a neutral description but a negative way to qualify someone and to stigmatize them,” the Mexican agency said.
As the debate over this chant rages on, some folks have proposed other words that Mexican fans can scream when the opposing goalie takes a kick off.
Here are some suggestions that came about after Mexican midfielder Marco Fabian asked for new chants over twitter. The most mentioned one was, “eehhhh Blaatter” which probably reflects fans’ frustration with FIFA’s leadership.