Slurs and Soccer: An Overview of World Cup Controversies


Trash talking is as much a part of soccer as it is any other sport that starts in the schoolyard and ends being broadcasted to millions of people around the world. The more you can get under your opponent’s skin, the better chance you stand at catching him off guard.

And just like when an NBA player approaches the free throw line, sometimes the crowd gets involved.

Up until this moment, most games in the World Cup have exemplified very sportsmanlike conduct—at least from the players. But the fans? That is questionable.

Mexican fans are known for chanting “puto” when the opposing keeper is ready to kick the ball. The crowd favorite has come under scrutiny over the last few days after Mexico’s National Commission to Prevent Discrimination issued a statement against the chant and urged FIFA to take measures that would stop its use. That would mean placing fines on Mexico’s Soccer Federation as a way for them to encourage fans to stop saying it.

As we have reported, Mexican soccer officials then defended the word, which some say is a homophobic slur, calling it “folksy,” and dismissing the notion altogether by saying that “FIFA should worry about more important things.”

Literally, the word “puto” means “man whore,” and people also use it to call someone a coward… or to describe a homosexual man.

FIFA seemingly agrees with the Mexican officials. In a statement, the governing body released a statement saying they do not consider the word to be “insulting in the specific context” of a soccer match.

Later that day, you could still read these tweets during the Mexico/Croatia game:

So, there is that.

Fans were also calling out Cristiano Ronaldo’s haircut and saying it was super gay. “Faggy,” to be precise. This was going down on Twitter during the U.S./Portugal game. It looked pretty Puerto Rican to me (PC police: can I say that?). Here’s what his hair actually looked like:

Never mind the fact that he actually got the haircut to match the scars of a young fan who is recovering from brain surgery. Ronaldo also reportedly paid the kid’s $83,000 medical bill for the surgery. Way to go, homophobes. Here’s some snippets of the backlash:

Sports. Mind games. Stupid people. FML.

But hey, at least there’s not a very big Neo-Nazi presence in Brazil, like what some clubs have to deal with when they play in Europe. Well, except for when that one fan invaded the pitch during the Germany/Ghana game and was found to be a Neo-Nazi sympathizer with pro-Hitler messages written across his body.

FML again, even harder this time.

So what does it all mean? I don’t know, bro, I’m just trying to watch some soccer over here. Shut your mouth, sit in your chair, and just enjoy the games. We’re supposed to get either very happy or very angry over these games. Not offended. That’s just foul.

Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.

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