Mexico’s infamous ‘puto’ chant, can it be stopped?

For many years the famous chant can be heard in stadiums all over Mexico, and even stadiums here in the United States when Mexico plays. It starts with the crowd chanting “¡Eeeeeeeeehhhhh!” as the goalkeeper gets set to deliver a goal kick. The culmination of the chant ends with a gigantic scream of “¡PUTO!” once the keeper delivers the goal kick.

It’s a chant that most soccer fans are familiar with, and having experienced it myself at the first and second division level in Mexico, it’s one that is not going away any time soon.

In case you are not familiar with the chant or the Spanish language, the word “puto” has many meanings. It can mean “prostitute”, it can be used to say something is not favorable or good and also can be translated as the word “faggot” in English.

Because of the latter, efforts by the FMF (the Mexican Football Federation) have been taken to try to get fans to abandon the chant, as it causes some Spanish language networks to censor the chant during live games — which is sometimes successful and sometimes not.

A couple of months ago, FIFA hit the FMF with a fine of almost $20,000 for “proceedings [relating] to homophobic chants by the respective team’s fans, with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee finding the associations to have violated article 67 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.” The FMF has appealed the fine.

Since then, the Mexican Federation has made a video where Mexican National Team stars have spoken out about the chant that is so popular with fans. The campaign is named “Abrazados por el futbol” which is translated into “Hugging for Soccer” and it has Mexico NT members such as Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, Rafa Marquez and Jesus Corona saying that everyone is worthy of respect, that everyone’s opinion matters before asking, “I know how to forgive … do you?”

As much as this is a step in the right direction for Mexican soccer to address the issue, this comes way too late and has only come after they were levied the fine and after they have come under scrutiny for the chant. This chant has been a Mexican “tradition” at football games for more than five years and everyone is involved in it. From the ultras to the children at the stadiums and everyone in between, this is something that has been engrained into Mexican culture. How much so? There is a viral video of a young girl that dedicated a song to the Netherlands NT after the “No Era Penal” incident and she starts off the song with the chant. In my opinion, the chant is not going to stop any time soon. The FMF’s efforts have been too little, too late.

Many argue that the true meaning the word is not homophobic in nature, that it can be used as coward or as a substitute for “you suck”, but the same can be said of how people in the United States use the word “gay” to mean “not favorable” or “uncool.” Just because you can use a word for a meaning that is not it’s literal intention, doesn’t mean you should.

Recently, while watching a Sinaloa vs. Cruz Azul game the analyst narrating the game applauded the Sinaloa crowd for not using the chant after a Jesus Corona goal kick, only to have him express his disappointment just five minutes after the next goal kick by Corona was met with the familiar “¡Eeehhhh PUTO!”

So what can the Mexican Federation and FIFA do? Individual club fines? Punish the fans by having closed door matches? Banning ultras from attending the matches? It’s very hard to say what can work to stop the chant from occurring but surely the current plan isn’t effective. Maybe the fans will get bored with it and just abandon it themselves.

As a person of Mexican descent, I really don’t see the chants stopping and with the disregard of the issue by FIFA and the FMF, the chant has a risk of finding a permanent home wherever Mexican soccer is played.

About Josh Espinal

I am a multimedia journalism graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso. Soccer is more than a passion for me, it's basically life. Follow me on twitter at @joshbruv and see me tweet about soccer in almost every language imaginable.