The Mexican Soccer Federation is appealing a roughly $30,000 fine imposed on the nation’s soccer team regarding a chant fans use at games that FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, considers to be antigay. This is the fifth time the Mexican team has been fined regarding the chant and the third in the last 10 months, reports the Associated Press.
The fine comes after fans used the chant during the Mexican team’s World Cup qualifying match against Honduras September 6, ESPN reports.
Mexican federation secretary general Guillermo Cantu said the federation is appealing the fine because “in the specific context the chant is not discriminatory,” according to the AP. The chant in question is the word “puto,” which is typically yelled by fans of the Mexican team while the opposing goalkeeper has the ball. The word can be a homophobic slur, but it can also mean “coward” or “male prostitute.”
FIFA has previously agreed that the word is not necessarily homophobic. In 2014, FIFA launched an investigation into the chant, and the organization’s disciplinary panel determined that it “is not considered insulting in this specific context,” Fox Sports reported at the time.
LGBT group GLAAD has previously spoken out against the use of the “puto” chant at soccer games. Monica Trasandes, the director of Spanish-language media at GLAAD, told The Advocate it is a “difficult subject for some people, who truly feel the chant is not meant in an offensive way in that context.”
“Something we work hard to explain is that the intention of the user is not what’s most relevant, but the word’s history and its power,” said Trasandes. “That word is used as an antigay slur every day in Mexico and Latin America, and so hearing a whole stadium full of people shout it is incredibly painful for many Latinx LGBTQ people and has to stop.”
Caitlin Murray, a writer for Fox Sports, said FIFA is not doing enough to curb the use of the term. She suggested that FIFA go to greater lengths to get its message across to fans of the Mexican team. She said FIFA should either set higher fines or force the team to play to empty stadiums in order to deprive it of both revenue and home field advantage.
FIFA has done this before. Croatia played to an empty stadium during its World Cup qualifier in September and will do so again this weekend because FIFA accused its fans of chanting fascist slogans during their games, according to Fox Sports.
Mexico isn’t the only country to receive fines for the use of what FIFA calls “homophobic chants from supporters.” Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay have been fined for the same thing, reports ESPN.
The Mexican soccer team’s next World Cup qualifying match is Monday against Honduras.