Mexican soccer fans are known to be a tough crowd. If you aren’t a soccer fan you can think of them as the twelfth man of international soccer. Playing a game in the Estadio Azteca is not on the to do list of any team, and much of that is because of a passionate fanbase.
Mexican World Cup fans often chant the word “Puto” at opposing goalkeepers.Puto can be used in many ways, one of which is as a gay slur. This has caused FIFA to open an investigation into the use of the word by the fans. More than likely nothing was going to come of this investigation and Mexico was simply going to get a warning, then Miguel Herrera got involved.
I think most people would agree that punishing a team for the behavior of fans is hard to do. Herrera made it clear though that not only does the team condone it, the team encourages it. Herrera said “We’re with our fans. It’s something we do to pressure the opposing goalkeeper.” Well he managed to squash any qualms about punishing a team for fan behavior anyone may have had didn’t he?
Mexican fans main argument is that they aren’t using puto as a gay slur, they are using it to mean coward. This is tantamount to a U.S. fan calling someone gay and then claiming he meant happy. Sure, it’s a possible explanation, but it’s a bit of a stretch. Another rationalization is that they are saying “puto” to mean “man whore.” OK, well that’s not a gay slur I guess, but it is unbelievably inappropriate for an international sporting event being watched by people of all ages and genders. Also, the fact that when you search the word “coward” in Google translate it gives you about 10 possible choices, none of which are “puto.”
Keeping in mind that this is the same fanbase that booed and yelled “Osama” during the U.S. national anthem, it’s really hard for me to take them at their word that this is an innocent misunderstanding. This is the fanbase that threw jars of urine at Landon Donovan, these are the LSU fans of soccer fans.
I get defending your fanbase and nation when you feel they are being criticized, but if you find yourself having to do it over and over again maybe a more productive course of action would be to try to change the ugly culture prevalent in your fandom.
It’s easy to say this is a racial issue or an issue of not understanding another culture, but that’s such a cop out. I’m all for respecting other cultures, do you really want to claim all this ugliness is just part of your culture?