Today marked the first day that FIFA’s updated disciplinary code went into effect and along with it harsher punishments for discrimination on the pitch, whether it’s from supporters or players. The global federation is seeking to stamp out the ugliness of racism and homophobia that exists within the beautiful game, and one of the main targets is a certain chant that you’re bound to hear, at least a few times, if you attend a Mexico national team game or watch it on television.
When the opposing goalkeeper kicks the ball away on a goal kick, all at once in a massive chorus, Mexico fans scream at the top of their lungs: “Eeeeeehhhhhhhhhh Puuuutoooo!”
The “puto” routine was ubiquitous during this summer’s Gold Cup, in which Mexico beat the United States 1-0 in the tournament finale at Soldier Field in Chicago just eight days ago.
CONCACAF tried, albeit not very hard, to stop the chant. As Yahoo Sports points out. The Mexican Futbol Federation’s actions have not sufficed either. It remains to be seen whether or not FIFA would actually impose forfeiture on Mexico in World Cup qualifiers, or even in the tournament itself, but that seems kind of far-fetched at this point.
Input the word “puto” into Google translate and it will come up as “fucking,” but it’s not a slang term for sex. It’s the use of the word “fucking” as an adjective preceding a noun (typically) in instances of anger or disgust, a la the use of the word “bloody” in the United Kingdom.
That’s not really how the word is being used here and one must remember the importance of context. FIFA has deemed this chant offensive and homophobic, because the supporters are yelling a word that’s a Spanish translation for a male prostitute; usually implying that said male prostitute is homosexual.
No matter what you think you’re saying, this is what FIFA has decided you are saying. The chant has even been used on Mexico’s own goalkeeper on occasion and showed up in full force during a NFL game played in Mexico.
According to Urban Dictionary.com, “sometimes it’s offensive for homosexuals. in Mexico it is used for cowards and traitors.”
It’s deplorable and disturbing that this ritual is persists in 2019. Simply put- this has got to go.
Tomorrow brings the commencing of the International Champions Cup, a gathering of exhibition matches featuring a dozen teams, from six different nations, staged in six different countries.
The very first match, kicking off tomorrow night at 8pm central on ESPN2 features ACF Fiorentina taking on Chivas de Guadalajara, a club that some claim is intertwined with the origin story of the puto scream.
In researching this topic, you won’t find a more detailed internet article than this one published in 2017 on RE Mezcla, who inform us:
The chant’s often-told origin story is that Club Atlas fans created it to mock goalie Oswaldo Sanchez–who started his legendary career with the club–when he returned as a member of crosstown rival Chivas de Guadalajara. Like most urban legends, the people who tell the tale give different dates of when it happened: 2000, 2003, 2004, take your pick. Sanchez, for his part, takes credit for inspiring the chant but blames Chivas fans whom greeted him with it when he returned to Guadalajara in 2007 as a member of Santos Laguna.
The problem is that no primary source supports either version.
So while it’s widely believed that Chivas popularized this egregiously offensive trend, but it’s not a belief that’s verified as totally accurate.
With Chivas taking on Fiorentina tomorrow night at Seatgeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, the team held their preview press conference on Monday. Chivas Manager Tomas Boy was asked if he believes the new, stronger FIFA measures will finally lead to the chant’s cessation.
“It’s not my place,” he responded (through a translator).
“I can (only) give a personal opinion on this, but there are many Mexicos, we are many Mexicans, and Mexican culture varies greatly, so it’s going to be difficult, but I can’t say how correct or incorrect it is because really it’s an expression that doesn’t qualify the person to whom it’s directed and I can even say that today when the fans received me when we arrived by plane the fans yelled something similar at me.”
“Mexican culture is so varied, it will be hard for it to happen If there are sanctions then they will have to deal with those people and that attitude have to be dealt with.”
He was then asked if he has a message for fans coming to the game tomorrow night, in regards to this topic.
“I don’t have time for that,” he responded (via an interpreter).
“I’m more worried about working with the team and finding a form of playing that will let us resolve and be consistent. I’m focused on getting the team strengthened.”
“When you get to this institution, you realize the strength regarding the fan base, but I’m not anyone to tell them how to behave.”
Boy said it will be very difficult to stamp out the chant, and the writer for RE Mezcal believes (or at least they did in 2017) that the ritual won’t ever go away:
It’s time to accept the reality: “ehhh, puto” will never go away. It’s Mexico’s Confederate flag—a nasty part of our supposed heritage that no outsider can ever tell us is wrong, and that we grip onto even tighter when they tell us it is. And that stubborn pride will deservedly screw us in the end.
That’s an almost perfect analogy right there- “ehh, puto” and the Confederate flag.
However, the U.S.-based Mexico fan group Pancho Villas’ Army has given us some cause for hope, by including now a “no goalkeeper chant” clause into their membership agreement.
“Moving forward, we will be inserting [an anti-chant] clause into our membership rules and code of conduct,” wrote PVA founder Sergio Tristan in an official statement published last week.
“While our code generally covers the chant we will specifically list it as an unacceptable conduct. The same clause will be inserted into our ticket purchases pages.”
“We already inform all PVA ticket purchasers that our section is a standing, cheering, and singing section. The same page will now inform potential PVA ticket purchasers that our section is [an anti-chant] section too.”
At ICC media activities, one veteran reporter told this journalist that the chant is pretty much already gone in Mexico, and that it’s really only done now, mostly for shock value, on the international stage. So yes, this awful ritual can be abolished.
Maybe this is a major turning point? Perhaps futbol reporters and historians well down the road in future generations will look back upon 2019 as the year in which the tide against “ehh, puto” finally turned for the better?
Hopefully so, but it looks like there is still a long road ahead towards progress.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.