Just when you thought it was all over, the Mexican “puto” chant controversy has once again reared its ugly head. As the popular fan “tradition” has continued on despite warnings and punishments from soccer’s governing bodies, the fines for the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) are still piling up. The most recent fine, clocking in at around $10,000, was announced on Tuesday for the chant’s appearance during a Mexico-Panama World Cup Qualifier on September 1st, at the famed Estádio Azteca.
Since the start of World Cup qualifying in November 2015, FIFA has fined the FMF 10 times in 14 matches, for a total somewhere north of $145,000. Yikes. Although they continue to be sanctioned, the FMF has yet to pay all of the fines, because of a suit it has filed against FIFA which awaits a decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. All of this controversy begs the question: is the “puto” chant really worth the headache?
The chant has been targeted by some of the largest organizations in world soccer, who see the chant as homophobic and offensive. Fans, on the other hand, claim that the mainstream has misconstrued the meaning of the chant; it’s not meant to be homophobic, but rather as a taunt targeted at their opponents. Then again, they must look at why they believe a homophobic slur is the taunt of choice for an entire fanbase.
Regardless, the fines have not done the job in terms of curbing the chant. The only thing that appeared to work–albeit on a small scale–was FIFA’s three-step program implemented during the Confederations Cup.
Under the initiative, there would first be an announcement made at the stadium once the chant was heard, telling fans to stop. If the announcement failed to stop the chanting, the referee could first suspend the game until the chant stopped. If that didn’t work, then he could outright cancel the match. No one wants to see that, and so the Confederations Cup generally went ahead without the chant making an appearance.
Could this be the FMF’s only chance at controlling the chant? Would the FMF be willing to affect the outcome of Mexico’s games for a chant they don’t even believe to be offensive? So far, they have sided with their fans and their right to chant at their discretion, but as the fines keep coming, the FMF might have to make a different decision.