On Wednesday night, Major League Soccer team LA Galaxy hosted its 5th annual Pride Night event, facing off against FC Dallas.
What was meant to be a night of celebrating the LGBT community, and the diversity of soccer fans, took an ugly turn as the anti-gay “puto” chant rang out through the stadium on numerous occasions.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) May 31, 2018
The chant has been heard at games in both the United States and abroad for years, but hearing it at a Pride Night was a new low. Outsports confirmed fans were chanting the slur with several people who were at the match.
The Spanish word is often used to insult gay men, as well as women, and those seen as weak or traitorous.
“I thought we were past this, especially in MLS,” said Kevin Baxter, a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times who reported hearing from colleagues that the chant was used.
“It’s really embarrassing and hurtful—more so on a night set aside to celebrate pride at the stadium where the first gay professional athlete in American history made his debut,” he continued, referring to Robbie Rogers, who came out in 2013 and went on to win the MLS Cup the following year with the Galaxy.
Fans were also heard yelling the chant late last month, during Los Angeles Football Club’s inaugural home match at its new stadium downtown.
“We are not just concerned about [the chants], it defies everything we stand for,” MLS commissioner Don Garber told the Los Angeles Times after that game. “I’ve spoken to ownership during the game. They get it. And I have real confidence that it’ll stop.”
Anti-gay and racist chants are on the rise among soccer fans, according to a report issued by London-based Fare Network and Moscow-based Sova Center.
Victoria beer, a subsidiary of Modelo, has launched a campaign encouraging fans to chant “Putin,” as in Russian President Vladimir Putin, instead of the offensive term—to the changrin of Russian ambassador to Mexico, Eduard Malayán.
Beyond fears of being subjected to homophobic slurs, concerns of physical safety for LGBT people at the World Cup have also been raised, due to the country’s hostility toward the LGBT community.
Fans thinking of making the trip from England have been warned that if they are LGBT they will be hunted down and stabbed.
Note: Article updated to correct the year Rogers came out. We regret the error.