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One word, differing opinions on controversial cheer

By - Jun 03, 2017

By Orlando Manzo for The Sporting Nation

Phoenix Rising fans have been nearly expelled from the club's stadium for chanting one particular homophobic word at the opposing team's goalkeeper.
The word "puto" has been heard coming from the crowd, and its use has given club officials cause to react with potential consequences.
For many years, Mexican fans have chanted the word "puto!" every time the goalkeeper of the opposite team does a goal kick. The word has multiple derogatory meanings which can translate to homosexual or male prostitute.
The chants originate from more than 30 years ago at American football games in Mexico. When the kicker punts to the opposite team, the fans yell ‘puuum!’ as a sound of the impact of the ball. That moved to soccer where they use a complete word, "puto." 
FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, has penalized the Mexican Soccer Federation eight times in the last 17 months for the same homophobic chant by its fans.
Recently last April, the disciplinary committee of FIFA imposed a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs, which is around $10,270 U.S. The sanctions came for various incidents involving discriminatory and unsporting conduct by fans, including the homophobic chant.
The Mexican federation acknowledges the problem and has created campaigns to fight against the discriminatory slur. However, the problem seems to have gotten worse and has now moved to the stadiums in the United States where a lot of Mexican fans still chant the same word.
Jose Bosch, media relations director of Phoenix Rising FC, is aware of those chants and said that the club is in complete disagreement with the use of the word, and will have zero tolerance of any discriminatory words in their facilities.
“As a club, we don’t condone exclusionary language of any kind in the stadium. If we find any fan that uses exclusionary language, we reserve the right to kick them out. We usually give them a warning because you never know, that could be their first time in a game, but if they say it again we will have to kick them out.” Bosch said.
Richard Guel, known as “El Coronel,” is the leader of the Phoenix chapter of the official supporters group for the Mexican national soccer team in the United States. This group is known as The Pancho Villa's Army and they do not support the chant.
“The truth is that this has become bigger than what we thought. Yeah, we used to do it, but now we have realized that it’s an insult and we have stopped chanting that word. I know the intentions of the Hispanic people is not to be discriminatory against the goalkeeper, but they do it more just to bother the player and just to have fun.” Guel said.
A soccer fan known as “El Sub,” who did not want his full namepublicized, is a member of Los Bandidos, a supporters group for Phoenix Rising. He mentioned that the word is something cultural and is used almost daily by Hispanics.
“This is something very common and cultural for us and people here take it as homophobic but is not. Mexicans and Hispanics use the word for everything, we call any little thing ‘puto,’ like 'oh my puto phone broke' and that doesn’t mean the phone is gay," El Sub said. "We have noticed people have been expelled from the games, so we stopped chanting that word because we don’t want to be expelled either. We also know that this can affect our team, so we just don’t do it.” ‘El Sub’ said.
As recently as Wednesday at a U.S. Open Cup match, the cheer was heard throught the stadium. Fans, maybe a few hundred of them, raised their arms, wiggled their fingers and yelled "Ehhhhhhh....Pu-tooo!!!" when San Francisco Deltas goalkeeper Steward Ceus punted the ball. And it wasn't limited to Latino fans. 
It's an issue that seems more difficult to enforce despite even players' campaigns against the word. 



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