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Mexican soccer federation begs fans to stop homophobic chant at games

Mexico fans cheer their team at the 2017 Confederations Cup at Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. (Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images)

The word can be heard loud and clear on television every time the opposing goalkeeper kicks the ball back into play against Mexico.

“Puto!” some soccer fans in the stands chant in unison.

A derogatory slang term referring to a homosexual man, the word has come under fire from everyone from gay rights activists to FIFA to even some of Mexico’s star soccer players, who participated in a campaign to discourage fans from chanting the word in 2015.

Now, Mexican soccer’s governing body is coming out against the chant, as well.

“As you know, FIFA is very serious about the chanting that we do when the goalkeeper takes a kick, and the possible sanctions are serious,” the Federation of Mexican Soccer told fans in a statement (via the BBC). “Our efforts on the pitch will come to nothing if, because of this, we lose the match, the game is suspended or you are expelled from the stadium.”

It added: “We lose, you lose, everyone loses.”

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The warning to fans came after fans chanted the slur during their opening Confederations Cup match against Portugal at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, where the teams tied, 2-2.

FIFA reportedly issued a warning to the Mexican side about the “insulting and discriminatory” chants, and said if it happens again, world soccer’s governing body would take “further action,” according to the BBC.

FIFA has fined Mexico before for allowing its fans to repeat the offensive chant. In January, FIFA demanded $85,000 from the federation after Mexican national team fans chanted the word in five World Cup qualifying matches.

Those disciplinary proceedings signaled a change in world soccer’s stance on the matter, after FIFA’s disciplinary committee rejected calls to fine Brazil for allowing the chant at the World Cup in 2014.

The committee said at the time that “the specific context” in which the chant was said was “not discriminatory,” according to the Associated Press.

FIFA changed its tune after revamping its anti-discrimination guidelines in 2015, but not everyone is happy about it, including El Tri’s Colombian-born head coach, Juan Carlos Osorio.

On Monday, Osorio took the fans’ side, presenting a common argument that despite the meaning of the word, it’s not meant to be derogatory.

“In our group we always have a difference between facts and interpretations,” he said (via BeIn Sports). “It’s true there are some sing-a-longs and shouts. We could debate about their meanings for some time. … I understand why the crowd sings along and I don’t think the interpretation [by FIFA] is right.

He added: “In other parts of the world there are chants that generate violence but I do not think this is like that.”

Regardless of people’s thoughts on the chant, it appears Mexican fans heeded their federation’s warnings. During the team’s 2-1 win over New Zealand on Tuesday, fans clapped for the opposition goalkeeper instead of chanting at him, according to accounts on Twitter.