Major League Soccer newcomer team clamps down after homophobic chants heard
Fans of a US football club have been warned by bosses about using homophobic chants at matches.
Atlanta United supporters repeatedly sung “Puto!” at opposition players during Sunday’s match, a chant which is widely condemned as homophobic.
The chant, which originated in the Mexican league, is designed to put a goalkeeper or corner-kick taker off their stride by using a derogatory word for a male prostitute or gay man.
But Atlanta United responded to send a message of inclusion and acceptance, saying that fans would be removed if they are heard making homophobic chants.
“We strive to foster a positive, enthusiastic and inclusive environment for all fans, and inappropriate chants have no place at our matches,” the team said in a statement, reports ESPN FC.
“Atlanta United does not support or condone the use of offensive language. Fans found to be participating in this behavior will be subject to removal from the building.”
Juan Jacobo Hernández, president of Mexican LGBT rights organisation Colectivo Sol, has told Vice the chant is simply “cultural discrimination – cultural homophobia.
“Calling football players ‘puto’ is not just about making them miss their kick, it’s a way of degrading their masculine abilities and saying they’re not real men.”
Chris Billig, the founder of gay4soccer.com, simply said it was “a homophobic goal-kick chant” when speaking to sports news site Prost Amerika.
The club, which attracted more than 55,000 supporters to the game last night against the New York Red Bulls, was allowed to join Major League Soccer at the beginning of this season.
They have managed to attract former Premier League players like former Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones and ex-Burnley full-back Tyrone Mears, but risk being branded a homophobic club if the chants continue.
Fans at the match – which Atlanta lost 2-1 – recognised the song, tweeting their outrage that a newly formed club was already suffering from homophobia.
— Michael Overstreet (@mhemlock) March 6, 2017
It may be Atlanta United's first match, but their fans are in midseason form with their "puto" chant. #ATLvNY
— Tyler Bauer (@T_Bauer97) March 6, 2017
Atlanta is extremely classy with the Puto chants and the beer throwing #ATLvNY
— El Andrè (@NotANerd_) March 6, 2017
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In December, the Mexican Football Federation launched a campaign against discrimination, featuring some of its star players.
But just the next month, the federation appealed against a fine of 85,000 Swiss francs (£70,000) incurred for the chant being used during World Cup qualifiers.
The Chile national team has been issued with three separate stadium bans by FIFA over the chant, after 25 rights groups criticised the organisation for not censuring teams whose fans sung the chant at the last World Cup.