The United States Men’s National Team will face Mexico in the CONCACAF Nation’s League final on Sunday. Many people will be waiting to see how officials handle Mexico fans chanting the gay slur “puto.”
On Thursday, the match between Mexico and Costa Rica — won by Mexico on penalty kicks, 5-4 — was halted because Mexico fans couldn’t resist raining the gay slur down on Empower Field at Mile High in Denver.
CONCACAF Nations League tweeted:
The match on Sunday will be a real test for CONCACAF, FIFA, the game officials and everyone else associated with the match. FIFA has made it clear that the chanting of the slur will not be tolerated. Mexican soccer officials have tried to stop Mexico fans from using the slur.
So far the fans have not relented.
On top of the international soccer rules, the match will take place in Denver, Colo., where non-discrimination laws are clear and powerful. Colorado law on “Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation” states:
It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful . . . to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of . . . sex [or] sexual orientation . . . the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation.
There is no doubt that the location of the match is a “place of public accommodation” and thus subject to the law. Beyond FIFA rules, it will be unlawful for the match to be held when groups of fans are chanting gay slurs.
Colorado law mandates that the chanting of the slur result in the match being halted. If it continues, more drastic measures like the clearing of the stadium or the abandoning of the match are mandated by law to be explored.
While some people push back against the notion that calling someone a “male prostitute” (English translation for “puto”) is anti-gay, that ship has sailed long ago. Most recently, Major League Soccer fined and suspended USMNT player Sebastian Lletget for directing the slur toward a teammate in a private setting (and then sharing it on Instagram).
Lletget nearly scored a goal for the United States’ in its semifinal win over Honduras on Thursday and should be on the pitch for Sunday’s match.
Sunday’s Mexico-USMNT match will be a seminal moment on whether international soccer is willing to take the handling of the “puto” chant to the next level, beyond brief pauses in a match.
How seriously FIFA and CONCACAF are taking homophobia hangs in the balance.
This all comes to a head on Sunday.