Mexican fans have again used a homophobic slur during a World Cup football match, and FIFA appears uninterested in taking action.
During Monday’s game against Croatia, Mexican fans were heard chanting “Puto” at their rivals.
The Spanish word means male prostitute, but is widely used as a gay slur, equivalent to “fag” in English.
This is the fourth time that the slur has been used by Mexican fans at the Brazil World Cup. They previously chanted it in matches against Brazil, Cameroon and The Netherlands.
Despite a complaint over the chants by Football Against Racism Europe to FIFA, the incidents have been dismissed by both the Mexican team and the football association because of the word’s ambiguity.
FIFA has the power to penalise a team if its supporters behave in an inappropriate way, but the Mexican football authorities insist that they cannot control the actions of their fans, and FIFA seems to agree.
CONAPRED, the Mexican anti-discrimination body, condemned the use of “puto”. It said that, “Seeking to eliminate this practice is not trying to stifle free expression, but to avoid the normalisation of sexism, machismo and homophobia.”
Sports broadcasters have had to warn viewers about the chanting. ESPN’s Bob Ley told viewers in a statement: “This is a long-standing tradition at Mexican national team matches. The word is an anti-gay slur in Spanish… By way of background and information, you should know that ESPN does not control the audio and video of the international feed.”
Univision, the Spanish-language network, warned: “Although we realise this can happen in any televised sporting event, we do not, in any case, condone or endorse the use of such language. Univision Communications supports a World Cup that is inclusive, one that celebrates the diversity of the sport we love and can be enjoyed by all – absent what can be the hurtful consequences of certain words.”
Despite its claims that it aims to stamp out homophobia in the sport, FIFA has been accused of hypocrisy and not taking the issue seriously. Most notably, the association choose to select Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, to host the 2022 World Cup.
In 2011 and in 2013, FIFA failed to investigate or take any action over allegations that the Nigerian women’s soccer team had targeted and banned lesbian players.
There are no openly gay football players at the World Cup and only two openly gay professional footballers in the world; Anton Hysén and Robbie Rogers, both of whom play for American teams.