The Mexican Basketball Community is on a Mission to End Fans’ Homophobic Chants

Lead Photo: FIBA Americas Courtesy
FIBA Americas Courtesy
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“Ehhh puto!”

Every Mexican soccer fan has heard it. Most have screamed it from the stands, or at a bar celebrating with friends. The insult is so popular that it has spread to other sports, and not everyone is thrilled. The Mexican basketball community – who is hosting the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico City – has started a campaign to end the practice at basketball games, arguing it lacks the elegance and class they attribute to el deporte ráfaga.

Uniting fans in a euphoric chant against the opponent, the slur (which is typically directed at the opposite team’s goalie) has been part of Mexican soccer culture for decades. But despite the long-established culture around it, you can’t deny that there is something definitely fucked up about the vociferous cry. Not only is it vulgar, but it’s also homophobic.

Some will say that it’s not offensive, that the meaning of the word goes beyond its homophobic connotation. This may very well be true, but in the context of the stands, its meaning is just as powerful. When aimed at a particular person – even when not used directly as a synonym for “gay” – the word still implies cowardice, a characteristic attributed to gay men in Mexican society.

During the 2014 World Cup, FIFA opened an investigation to determine whether the chant was homophobic or not. However, FIFA was not able to determine the full or real meaning behind the practice. That’s why the Mexican basketball team’s campaign is important; it’s appealing directly to the Mexican fans, the main perpetrators of the offensive taunt.

It might be a uniting force. It might be an old tradition. It might be all fun and games. But it seems like the time for this to stop has come. It might be late, but the time is finally here, and the responsibility is not just in FIFA’s hands, since they can barely handle their own shit. It’s in the hands of the fans too.