Univisión’s Policy on the P**o Chant

Posted on January 6, 2013 12:18 am

There is one distinct staple of Mexican football, something that you will not hear anywhere else in Latin America unless the aztecas happen to be playing there. You can catch it at practically every match in the Liga MX, at every national team game and even in the World Cup (oftentimes during the opener of the last finals in South Africa). And Univisión, the largest Spanish-language television network in the US, is clamping down on it…kind of.

While most people in my country are tuning in to the NFL Playoffs, I looked forward to Matchday 1 of the Liga MX 2013 Clausura, the first competitive action in our region for the calendar year. Today, Univisión showed Club América’s debut against Monterrey at 6:00 p.m. EST, while sister channel Telefutura (soon to become Unimás) showed Pachuca-Atlante two hours later, and further fixtures were carried on Univisión Deportes Network (UDN) and UDN2. As expected, every time the visiting goalkeeper took a goal kick, or took long enough for the crowd to draw its collective breath before putting the ball back in play, the typical shout rang out from the stands:

“Puto!”

The word puta unambiguously refers to a prostitute or whore, and the insult hijo de puta (hint: hijo=son) is common throughout the Spanish-speaking world, so much so that David Beckham once got ejected from a Real Madrid game for practicing his castellano with an assistant referee. The connotations of its masculine counterpart, however, are subjective; I, having never been to Mexico, am ill-suited to speak with authority about their particular lexicon. I can only say in general that the term literally means “male prostitute”, and can be used in the same manner as when one rapper calls another a bitch, or more casually as an adjective (like “damn” in English), or with a more homophobic intent.

What confuses me, then, is that the crowd shouts of “Puto!” could be heard loud and clear during the América match on Univisión, but were censored on Telefutura’s Pachuca-Atlante broadcast. Without pointing to exact instances, I remember the same sort of inconsistent policy applied to Liga MX matches during the 2012 Apertura. Here, I am left with more questions than answers: if there is something objectionable about the chant, why censor it in some games and not others? Does the difference lie in the TV time slot? Do the Univisión networks face FCC fines for letting the chant slide? And if so, what do we make of Telemundo’s complete lack of censorship (I have never heard it cut out of the game audio)?

…yes, I’m going to end with a series of questions. I would feel somewhat guilty, except that Ives Galarcep has made a habit of it.

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