FIFA Launches Mexico Homophobia Probe

One of the largely unwritten-about features of the Mexico-Brazil match on Tuesday was the way that Brazil fans mocked their Mexican counterparts by parroting the ugly and obnoxious "puto" goal-kick chant whenever The New Messiah, Memo Ochoa, launched the ball.

It was loud and unmistakeable, came across worldwide TV quite clearly and, since both sides were doing it, ESPN and every other broadcaster in the world - everybody uses the FIFA feed - found themselves unwillingly beaming an ugly gay slur around the globe a couple of dozen times.

Since apparently the hordes of FIFA representatives on site have hearing deficits - else they would have noticed it last Friday in the Cameroon game - FARE, the semi-official fan monitoring agency based in Europe, has filed a complaint with BlatterCo. against both groups of fans.

They've also filed a complaint against Russian and Croatian fan groups, submitting evidence of anti-semitic banners and chanting. What the hell is wrong with those two countries and how in the world is it that one of them will be hosting the next World Cup?

Piara Powar, Executive Director of FARE and a member of FIFA's Anti-Racism Task Force (which is chaired by CONCACAF President Jeff Webb) told the Telegraph:

"It seems that some fans of some countries will take their hatred halfway around the world. These images need to be acted on urgently. The levels of homophobic abuse at some matches is also totally unacceptable."

"FIFA has some strong regulations in place and we hope they use them. Zero tolerance is the approach set out. It is what is required here."

Specifically, FIFA can pretend that this is a first offense and issue a warning to Mexico. However, a second offense, by statute, will involve sanctions like docking points and forcing El Tri to play behind closed doors.

For their part, Mexican fans have responded maturly and with contrition, admitting that the use of a term which describes a homosexual prostitute is inappropriate and apologizing profusely.

Well, OK, so they're really not.

The general response is twofold, firstly by claiming that this is a "tradition" in Mexico and, somehow, that means it's OK. Which would be bullshit even if this "tradition" didn't date back only to 2002.

The second argument is that "puto" doesn't really mean what everybody in the world knows it means. Here, for example, is Wikipedia in their entry "Spanish Profanity":

A puto (literally "male prostitute" is a derogatory word for a homosexual male. It is perhaps the most offensive word referring to a homosexual male in Spanish.

In Mexico the usage implies a weak or gay man, for example, during soccer games, a popular cheer is screaming "puto" during the opposing team's goal kicks.

It would be roughly analogous to American fans chanting the "f" word on goal kicks. You think Don Garber gets irritated at YSA? He'd have a stroke, Sunil Gulati would actually make a public statement and FIFA would rightly go berserk.

A Mexican Federal agency called CONAPRED, which is charged with fighting hatred and discrimination, has roundly condemned the use of "puto" at soccer matches, recently issuing a statement saying in part:

"Seeking to eliminate this practice is not trying to stifle free expression, but avoid the normalization of sexism, machismo and homophobia, understanding that the full exercise of all freedom has to be done in respect to the rights of third parties, without discrimination."

It's patently offensive and indefensible and if Mexican fans don't stop it then FIFA is going to make them, as they did with Russia after repeated incidents of monkey chants and banana throwing; they're going into Euro 2016 with a six point penalty before a ball is ever kicked.

It's time Mexican fans joined the rest of the world. If they want to keep it up, FIFA will make El Tri pay.

You can bank on it.