Soccer’s governing body FIFA have cleared Mexico of any wrongdoing over its fans’ chanting of a homophobic slur because of the context in which it was chanted.
Mexico, along with Brazil, had been the subject of a disciplinary investigation after claims that its fans were chanting ‘puto’ at Cameroon’s goalkeeper during their World Cup match. ‘Puto’ is the Spanish word for a male prostitute, and is also frequently used as an insult targeted at gay men.
FIFA have now cleared the Mexican team of improper conduct after declaring that the chant “was not considered insulting in the specific context.” This is likely in reference to claims by many that ‘puto’ also means ‘coward’, and it was this meaning that fans were using in chants, hoping to put off the opposing team’s goalkeeper.
Of course, what FIFA seem to be ignoring is that when you use the same slang to call someone both a coward and gay, that word will be homophobic in almost any context.
Fare, the leading anti-discrimination organization in soccer, said that they found the announcement “disappointing.” Their director, Piara Powar, has previously said that “the levels of homophobic abuse at some matches is also totally unacceptable.”
Just yesterday it was announced that Mexico’s coach, Miguel Herrera, had defended the chant, describing it as “not that bad,” explaining that it was simply “something they do to pressure the opposing goalkeeper.”
FIFA have not yet announced the results of their investigation into Brazil over similar chants, or into Croatia or Russia over allegations that fans brought anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi banners into matches. Depending on the results of those investigations, FIFA may come under fire for failing to live up to its stated intention to use the World Cup to fight racism and discrimination.