Today, following GLAAD's launch of the #StopTheSlurs World Cup campaign, Univision spoke out in support of LGBT fans of the World Cup and against inclusion of anti-gay slurs during the Mexico vs. Netherlands match.
The following statement was read before the game and during half time:
“We recognize that during the game there may be language, or chants, from some fans that are offensive to some members of our television audience. Although we realize this can happen in any televised sporting event, we do not, in any case, condone or endorse the use of such language. Univision Communications supports a World Cup that is inclusive, one that celebrates the diversity of the sport we love and can be enjoyed by all - absent what can be the hurtful consequences of certain words. In this regard, we strive to make sure that our own coverage and commentary is respectful and inclusive of all, including the gay community. This is our commitment to our audience, our community and our partners.”
Unfortunately the word "puto," which in many countries translates to "faggot," has been chanted repeatedly at opposition goalies during the World Cup 2014.
GLAAD's Spanish-Language Media Team reached out to broadcasters including Univision as part of the GLAAD #StopTheSlurs campaign. The #StopTheSlurs campaign was created to call attention to anti-gay chants and slurs still common in too many stadium worldwide, not just in Mexico, but UK, Argentina and elsewhere. No one, especially young LGBT Latinos watching the World Cup, should have to hear slurs aimed at their community while enjoying the game.
Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) lodged a formal complaint with FIFA about chanting of the word during a game between Mexico and Brazil, but FIFA, shockingly found the word was not offensive in that context.
The word "puto" can be defined in several ways depending on which Spanish-speaking country it is said in, but one definition is clear. The word means "faggot" in several countries. Conapred, the Mexican anti-discrimination agency, spoke out against its inclusion in the World Cup saying:
"The chant "puto" is an expression of disdain, rejection. It is not a neutral expression; it is negative, it is stigmatizing, it devalues. It equates being gay with being a coward, with mistakes, it is used to equate the rival team to women, because women are thought to be ridiculous in the world of sport which has always been thought as an exclusively masculine field," explained a Conapred representative.
FARE released the following statement about the FIFA decision: "If the decision is that the use of the word “puto” is not homophobic then this is disappointing and contradicts the expert advice of the Mexican government's own anti-discrimination body Conapred [El Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación] and numerous other experts. Independent academics that we have taken the time to consult also confirm what many football fans in South America have known for a long time. A genuine zero tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination will mean that Fifa will need to take some difficult decisions. In the longer term it is the only way to set out clear leadership and deal with a real issue in football."
FIFA's inaction ensures fans in the stadium and at home will be faced with thousands of people chanting "faggot" over and over.
"Univision has taken an important step by standing in solidarity with LGBT fans and calling for an inclusive World Cup, but LGBT fans and allies around the world are still waiting for FIFA to end its silence," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "FIFA's decision to ignore this issue flies in the face of the spirit of the World Cup, one of unity and respect. FIFA should take this opportunity to educate and join the movement for equality in sports."
ESPN addressed the inclusion of anti-gay slurs in an update before the game. According to Outsports, ESPN's Bob Ley read this statement about the chant before the match:
This is a long-standing tradition at Mexican national team matches. The word is an anti-gay slur in Spanish. Here at the World Cup this has become a bit of an international issue. FIFA has looked into it. Mexican officials have acknowledged the impossibility of policing the conduct and language of tens of thousands of fans. By way of background and information, you should know that ESPN does not control the audio and video of the international feed.
Groups of people chanting anti-gay slurs have no place in soccer—or televised sporting events watching by millions worldwide.
Visit glaad.org/worldcup for more on GLAAD’s #StopTheSlurs campaign and watch our PSAs in both English and Spanish below.