FIFA Was Wrong About “Puto” Chant, According to an International Sports Court

Lead Photo: Fans of Mexico chant during the first half of a 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group C match. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Fans of Mexico chant during the first half of a 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group C match. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Here we go again: the “puto” chant doesn’t seem to go away, and perhaps it never will. However, this time, there’s a plot twist in the narrative: the FMF, Mexico’s soccer federation, finally got one up over FIFA. FMF won an appeal against two FIFA-imposed bans over alleged homophobic by Mexican fans; the “puto” chant, of course.. They don’t have to cough up either the $20,100 over chanting during a World Cup qualifier against El Salvador in the autumn of 2015 or the $15,145 for the same offense away to Canada the following March.

Why? The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)–the highest court in sports–has a different take on the chant than FIFA. CAS deemed the chant insulting, rather than discriminatory, and replaced the FIFA fines with a warning. CAS said that “the intention of the Mexican fans….was not to offend or discriminate any specific person.” That’s the argument made by Mexican fans, by the way. That being said, CAS also explained that the “puto” chant “could still be considered discriminatory or insulting in nature and should not be tolerated in football stadiums.’

As a result, CAS downgraded the fines to a warning, but recommended that “in the event similar infringements occur again in the future, harsher sanctions should be imposed on the FMF.” So, don’t get too excited to scream it without repercussion.

The “puto” chant has had a tumultuous year, as FIFA, the FMF, and CONCACAF have all spoken out against it, but with little result. FIFA began an investigation and in fact fined Mexico every single home game of the Hexagonal over the slur. In total, FMF got $160,000 fines over the chant, which critics say is homophobic. FIFA also threatened to stop games if fans didn’t stop chanting.

It’s not just Mexico, either; the chant, yelled when the opposing goalkeeper takes a goal kick, has spread throughout Latin America, with Chile also receiving 11 fines, and Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Honduras and Panama commonly punished. Only Honduras and Chile have been punished with stadium bans, however.

CAS’ ruling goes counter to how FIFA has treated the chant, which should give the Mexican contingent more ammution in their fight to yell it out at will. To be continued…perhaps at the World Cup next summer?