By ALAN SNEL
It’s a soccer chant with an ugly, mean word that won’t go away.
And it happened at packed Cashman Field Saturday night when the expansion Las Vegas Lights FC of the United Soccer League (USL) played their inaugural preseason game before more than 10,000 fans.
It’s a horrible word that’s used at soccer matches meaning “faggot” and it was chanted in unison by some fans to mock the visiting team’s goaltender of the MLS Montreal Impact.
Lights owner Brett Lashbrook said a week ago at a team supporters meeting that the Lights games will be inclusive and that discrimination at the matches will not be tolerated.
“Of course it’s unacceptable. Of course it’s not tolerated,” Lashbrook told LVSportsBiz.com Monday night. “It was brought to our attention today. We have to work on how we will respond to this. It’s a challenge. It’s gone across Latin America and spread across the United States.”
JC Martin, who runs the Las Vegas Locally twitter handle with a friend and wrote about the chant, opposes the use of this word at Lights games.
Phil Garcia, president of a Lights’ supporter group called the Electric Company, said Monday that none of the more than 100 group members at the Lights’ first game used the term and some tried to tell fans who were using the word to knock it off Saturday night.
Garcia said his group likes to use play-on-words and does not want to hear that ugly anti-gay insult at future Lights games. The Lights play their second preseason game 8 p.m. Saturday at Cashman. The regular season starts in March.
Garcia lamented the word unfortunately gets used by fans who drink and who believe the term is part of soccer culture.
“It’s really hard to police everyone,” Garcia said Monday.
The term received attention during the 2014 World Cup when Mexican fans used the term.
FIFA, the international organization that oversees soccer, also fined Mexico after fans chanted the “puto” slur during 2018 World Cup qualifiers. FIFA fined Mexico $10,000 fine for the fans’ ugly chant.
The Los Angeles Times published this story on Mexican soccer fans using the word during chants.
The story said some fans explained the word does not have any anti-gay connotation and that it means, “coward.”
At last Monday’s meeting with fans at Cashman, Lashbrook spent 90 minutes discussing acceptable fan behavior and what is off-limits. He mentioned that the messages written on the large signs that spell out sentences would have to be reviewed ahead of time and that smoke devices would need to be inspected.
The puto chant did not come up.
LVSportsBiz.com reached out to the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada for a response and left a message, but did not get a call back.
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