After years of fines, criticism, and pleas from both players and soccer officials, fans of Mexico’s national team finally did what so many had asked them to do: They refrained from their infamous anti-gay chant.
It was so simple, and so glorious. They still partied. They still bounced up and down in Rostov-on-Don, celebrating Saturday’s 2-1 World Cup victory over South Korea. They just did so without offending anybody.
The slur, which had accompanied German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s goal kick during Mexico’s 2018 World Cup opener, was the only stain on a famous 1-0 win. It incited controversy, and drew a $10,000 fine for the Mexican soccer federation.
Six days later, as tens of thousands of fans cheered El Tri on to a second straight victory, it was absent.
Instead, those fans sang “Profe Osorio,” completing a 180-degree turn. It was a glorious day all around for Mexico.
Pressure to end the chant
Nobody really deserves effusive praise here. The fans took long enough. FIFA’s punishment, always weak and insufficient, was one of the reasons they took so long. FIFA had fined the Mexican federation after the chant was heard during every single one of Mexico’s home qualifiers, but never levied other sanctions.
And while the players’ public statements were perhaps the turning point, they were problematic: Their reasoning was not that the chant was offensive, but rather that it was costing the federation money.
“Let’s not risk another sanction,” Javier Chicharito Hernandez said.
“There are different rules now. … We should avoid punishments,” Marco Fabian said.
The Mexican federation has also put out several public statements, urging fans to stop. But it simultaneously fought the fines in the past, arguing that the chant wasn’t offensive – which it is.
The problem with the word – “p—” – is simple. It has multiple meanings. It has different connotations for different people. It is innocuous for some, offensive to others, just like so many English words that are taboo. Many belting it out, and claiming it as a Latin American soccer tradition, fit into that first category.
But if it was offensive to some people, it needed to stop. It’s great to see that Mexico fans have finally listened. Hopefully they continue to listen, and continue to understand why the chant had to go.
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