FIFA will not punish the Mexico soccer federation for its fans use of a controversial “puto” chant during World Cup matches that some critics believed to be homophobic.
In a statement issued on Monday, the global soccer association said that its does not consider the word to be “insulting in the specific context” of a soccer match.
The four letter word is chanted by Mexican fans when the opposing goalkeeper takes a kick-off.
It means “man whore” in Spanish, but is also used in Mexico to insult gay men.
FIFA launched an inquiry into the chant last week, after officials heard thousands of fans screaming this word at Mexico’s World Cup games against Cameroon and Brazil.
The organization said it wanted to check whether the chant went against World Cup regulations that discourage racism and other forms of discrimination at football matches.
Critics of the chant have called on Mexican fans to stop using the four letter word, arguing that it is a homophobic chant that depicts gay people as “lesser” human beings. Mexico’s National Commission to Prevent Discrimination even issued a scathing statement against the chant, and urged FIFA to take measures that would stop its use. According the agency the word reflects “disrespect and rejection,” of the gay community and “stigmatizes,” its members.
Mexican soccer officials have argued that “puto” is just a folksy word used to distract the opposing goalkeeper and that fans are not using it in discriminatory fashion.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera even said on Friday that he was not worried about the use of the word, and added that “FIFA should worry about more important things.”
On Sunday however, Herrera said in a press conference that Mexican Soccer officials could meet after the world cup is over to discuss ways in which the use of this chant can be discouraged.
“I don’t thinks that our team or the [Mexican Soccer] federation wants to talk about this with the fans who’ve come here to enjoy the World Cup,” Herrera said.
In Mexico’s professional soccer league, fans regularly chant “puto” at the opposing team’s goalkeeper. The chant has been around since 2004, according to the AP. But it only began to generate controversy after FIFA investigated its use at the World Cup.