Fans heard the ugly slur "puto" during the Las Vegas Lights FC's first game Saturday night at Cashman Field.

Soccer Chant With Anti-Gay Slur Heard At LV Lights’ First Preseason Game At Cashman



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 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.


“Anyone who speaks ‘Mexican’ Spanish, or who’s spent a significant amount of time in Mexico, knows exactly what puto means. It an extremely common swear word that has probably 100 different uses, but its literal definition is ‘male prostitute’ or, colloquially, ‘faggot,’ ” Martin said.
Kids should not hear the term, “puto,” at Lights soccer games. Photo credit: Erik John Ricardo/
“Here’s the bottom line: this homophobic bullshit has no place in Vegas, one of the most diverse and inclusive cities in the U.S. It will alienate many people, especially anyone who wants to bring their kids to games and/or simply doesn’t want to hear one of the Spanish language’s most vulgar words screamed every few minutes,” Martin said.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was there Saturday night, too. Photo credit: Erik John Ricardo/

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.


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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.

The Las Vegas Lights lost to the MLS Montreal Impact, 2-0, and the “puto” chant was heard during the game. Photo credit: Erik John Ricardo/


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.


But Martin said the Lights should eject fans who do the chant. “Some MLS teams have already begun ejecting fans who do the chant. FIFA too. The Lights should do the same. Give one warning and then eject. If they come to another game and do it again, 86 them. Vegas-style.”
Photo credit: Erik John Ricardo/

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. 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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Alan Snel

Alan Snel brings decades of sports-business reporting experience to Snel covered the business side of sports for the South Florida (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune and Las Vegas Review-Journal. As a city hall beat reporter, Snel also covered stadium deals in Denver and Seattle. In 2000, Snel launched a sport-business website for called After reporting sports-business for the RJ, Snel wrote hard-hitting stories on the Raiders stadium for the Desert Companion magazine in Las Vegas and The Nevada Independent. Snel is also one of the top bicycle advocates in the country.

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