Here's the #1 resolution all soccer fans should make in 2017: nix the p*to chant!
When we take those chances with those types of chants, we are saying so much more than the words that come out of our mouth. But when it comes to this, the chants we chant aren't by chance—we know what's being said.
In coming to the Colorado Rapids game on November 6th, which happened to catapult our beloved boys in burgundy into the Western Conference finals against the Seattle Sounders, and also in watching the USA vs. Mexico more recently in Columbus, Ohio (I have to say 'Ohio' in my own mind since my grandmother lived for years in Columbus, Georgia)—I heard that pitiful chant every time Tim Howard, and then Brad Guzan, made a goal kick. We can do better.
What Do You Mean by "We?"
I know what some will say: “By we, don’t you mean the Mexican El Tri culture you’re disparaging? Who are you to tell anyone how any person or culture should act?” Who am I?
Allow me to editorialize. I believe that we are all part of the same human race. From my tradition, I believe every person has dignity as an image bearer of God on a foundational level.
Having said that...
This is not about disparaging the Mexican culture, it's about all of us taking steps to stop disparaging people! Whether those who use it do so as a slur against the homosexual community, or whether they use it to say, “nerd or jerk,” it’s still takes away from the dignity we have as human beings.
Soccer has served as a great leveler of society. After reading Sir Alex Ferguson's book, Leading, he shared how his Manchester United team (along with many other stars on the world stage) came from very difficult backgrounds, with football being their only way to provide for themselves and their families. They moved beyond their upbringings—and in many ways, we need to move beyond the prejudices of our upbringing. This includes a culture in which saying “p*to” is legitimate.
Why is it so difficult to have conversations about this subject?
Fear of Offending and Being Deemed Intolerant
Whenever this topic arises, someone is offended. First of all, let's get one thing clear: if one group is allow to express an idea or a worldview, we should be able to respond with another worldview that many not agree with first said worldview (follow me?).
Tolerance works both ways. Francis Schaeffer rightly said, "Disagreement does not equal hate." We've lost the art of conversation and sharpening. We surround ourselves with people who agree with us, and unfollow or block on social media anyone who disagrees. No wonder our country is so divided.
When someone criticizes this p*to chant, this is not criticizing the Mexican culture primarily. Did this originate there? From what I've read, it seems so. But critiquing what someone does is not the same as critiquing (or hating) them as a person or a culture as a whole. We can care for someone and believe what they do is wrong. We can have conversations. If we lose these conversations, we've lost civilization (and, no, I don't believe I'm overstating the issue).
Because of this fear of offending, many wish to hold off outright banning the chant out of deference to the Latino community. After FIFA started handing down fines for fans using the chant, Mexican soccer official Guillermo Cantú stated, “We will appeal the sanction because we do not agree with the connotation FIFA has given to the chant. We’ll seek to explain that the chant in Mexico is not being carried out with the finality FIFA has interpreted.”
On the other hand, León Krauze, a Mexican journalist and Univision Los Angeles anchor, believes that “the origins of the chant are blurred and ultimately irrelevant. What matters is its offensive nature. The word ‘puto’ has many different meanings in Mexico, a country in which even the word ‘madre’ can be anything from a term of endearment to a truly shocking insult. Mexicans use ‘puto’ to describe cowardice (‘No seas puto’) or exaltation (‘¡Qué puto coraje!’). All that might not be of concern to FIFA, international soccer’s governing body: After all, worse thing are yelled from the stands both in Mexico and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, though, ‘puto’ can also be used as a truly nasty homophobic slur.”
Clearly, it’s a divided issue, even within the community from which it came. Having grown up in the South, I'm thrilled that we are being considerate of particular communities. But if we swing the pendulum too far, we risk not taking a stand by saying using derogatory terms to players on the field. Communication without degradation.
But when it comes to the universal understanding of dignity and, yes, being just plain nice—when did that go away?
And consider this: if this were your child on the receiving end of such vitriol, where would you stand? Regardless of where you stand regarding the LGBT movement, using such terms are not harmless.
Words matter. We can use them to build up, or we can use them as weapons with more destroying ability that the atomic bomb.
But it's not by chance that this chant is chanting more than one wishes to chant.
Editor’s Note: There will be much more on this topic over the next couple months, as we get closer to the 2017 season. Burgundy Wave reached out to Centennial 38 and the Rapids back in November and their official statements are below; however, both groups encouraged us to reach out again before the season started, which makes us hopeful that some changes may be coming regarding the policies around this chant.
C38: Officially, we have held for years the position that it will not come from the Capo stand. Our goal is to try and offset it with alternative options. With the next home game at least 3 months out, C38 is expanding its plan to address this issue more formally and further for the upcoming season.
Rapids: No comment.