Mexico Fans Stop Homophobic Chant, Excel at Good Chants

ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA - JUNE 23:  Mexico fans create a Mexican wave during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Mexico at Rostov Arena on June 23, 2018 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Mexico fans during the group F match against South Korea. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Saturday’s match against South Korea went about as well for Mexico as its fans could have hoped. The 2–1 victory all but guaranteed a trip to the World Cup’s knock-out stages and bolstered El Tri’s chances of winning its tough group outright. The game also didn’t feature any homophobic chants, so it was a very fine day indeed.

On Wednesday, FIFA fined the Mexico Football Federation $10,000 for its fans’ use of the “discriminatory and insulting” puto chant during the opening match against Germany. The chant, which is delivered at opposing keepers during goal kicks, has been a frequent and sour feature of El Tri games this decade. (For more information about its meaning, read Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo’s 2014 Slate article about the controversy.) Wednesday marked the 12th time FIFA has punished Mexico for the chant since the start of qualification matches three years ago.

“We don’t agree with the connotation that FIFA has given the chant,” Mexico Football Federation secretary Guillermo Cantu argued in 2016 as it appealed two of the fines. However, Cantu has seemingly come around to understanding the connotation since then. “Fans should stop the chant, or modify it, or change it all together. It would be better for everyone,” he said before Saturday’s match against South Korea. To the fans’ credit, they got the message.

The puto chant was totally absent from TV broadcasts (it had been cacophonous against Germany), and this did not go unnoticed by Telemundo’s Andrés Cantor.

The chant had been superfluous in the worst kind of way. Mexico’s fans are among the most passionate in the world, and they don’t need to scream puto at opposing goalkeepers to produce an amazing atmosphere. Saturday’s match in Rostov only proved this. Just listen to them serenade winger Chucky Lozano to the tune of “Seven Nation Army” before kickoff:

That’s awesome, as is this rendition of “Cielito Lindo”:

Mexico is one of the most fun and exciting teams at the World Cup. It looks poised to advance past the Round of 16 and go further in the tournament than it has in more than 30 years. There isn’t much to dislike about El Tri, and that’s truer after Saturday’s match than it was last week.

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the 2018 World Cup.