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Homophobic Chant Returns to DICK’s Sporting Goods Park

A subset of Colorado Rapids’ fans chanted the P word, regardless of MLS’s efforts to remove the chant from the beautiful game.

A ball sits available for play at the south sideline at DICK’s Sporting Goods Park during the Colorado Rapids home opener against Sporting KC.
John A. Babiak

UPDATE: This article was originally published on March 6, 2023. In the following days, Burgundy Wave had several enlightening conversations with both club and MLS officials. To clarify, the FIFA and Concacaf protocols for discriminatory chants are for when the chant is “widespread” throughout the stadium. At the 2023 Rapids home opener, the chant appeared to be localized within a subset of one section at DICK’s Sporting Goods Park. The protocol was not enacted a result though both stadium officials and supporters took action to educate and curtail the chant by the offenders. Education was the first step in this process. Further action could take place should it be necessary at future Colorado Rapids home games, possibly including additional stadium staff, education and enforcement.

As first reported by Denver Post MLS beat writer, Brendan Ploen, the demeaning “Eeeeeeehhhh puto! cry returned to DICK’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on Saturday during the waning minutes of the Colorado Rapids - Sporting Kansas City match.

While photographing the entertaining yet tense match, the vial chant bellowed out from the including southwest stands behind my credentialed location. It is the seating area near where the Rapids’ bench players warmup time and again while the game is being played.

It was clearly heard throughout the stadium every time Sporting KC’s goalkeeper, John Pulskamp, wound up and kicked the ball downfield.

The slur was also soaked up by field side television and radio microphones, and their domestic and international broadcast outlets.

I last heard this chorus on June 6, 2021, during the Concacaf Nations League Final between the United States Men’s National Team and Mexico in Denver’s Mile High Stadium.

Not only did I have to listen to immature singing and slurs. I, along with my working sideline peers and USMNT players were pelted with beverage cups, their contents, and food, by spectators who enjoy trashing their fellow human.

We then witnessed referee John Pitti suspend the match. The game only resumed after players and the venue public address announcer made impassionate appeals to the unbecoming fans to stop using the chant.

On May 22, 2022, the United States Soccer Federation responded by prohibiting discriminatory chants at international games sanctioned or managed by U.S. Soccer.

The Federations adopted both FIFA and Concacaf procedures that aim to quench homophobic chants that often creep into CONMEBOL, Concacaf, and national team matches.

The protocol requires a three-step process be executed immediately:

1. Stopping the match, both bilingual auditory and written display warning announcements be made.

2. Suspension of the match.

3. Abandoning match play.

MLS leadership has endorsed the produced and produced their version of League’s ZERO-TOLERANCE policy.

Regrettably, that policy, nor procedure, was not followed at the Rapids home opener. Centennial 38 Supporters Group has since posted a statement on their Instagram denouncing the behavior, promoting a culture of see something, say something, and saying that should this occur again, violators will be ejected among other punishments.

Call it a missed opportunity for Referee Allen Chapman to act. The host organization too.

Missed was the chance to both reeducate the audience, and reset adult expectations of both paying and comped fans. And rules that they are to obey, whether in attendance at home, or as ambassadors of the Club and her badge on the road.

ZERO-TOLERANCE of homophobic behavior means just that. It is that black and white

That being said, the ball is now in the collective hands of the League, club, and venue.

Their swift review of the sequential incidents and subsequent punishment should yield the banishment of these perpetrators, all who lack character, respect, and decency.