SAN DIEGO -- San Diego stadium board wants to stamp out the chanting of slurs at soccer games, in light of Mexican fans chanting an anti-gay slur in the Mission Valley stadium this July and recent efforts to broaden professional soccer's footprint in San Diego County.
"As San Diego becomes a host city for soccer, we should nip this culture in the bud," board member Jess Durfee said, four days after the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match, per the minutes of the advisory board of the stadium.
The board approved Durfee's motion to recommend City Hall try to put an end "to discriminatory slurs and chants at soccer games as the city pursues the opportunity to host a Major League Soccer team or other soccer teams in the future."
During the July 9 match between Mexico and El Salvador, Mexican fans chanted "puto!" in derision of certain El Salvador actions.
The meaning of puto varies among cultures.
While Mexicans have likened the word to traitor or coward when used in a sports context, some U.S. language experts have deemed it anti-gay and say puto must go.
The chant persists at Mexican matches, including pro soccer games in Tijuana.
International soccer might return to the Mission Valley stadium. Also, Oceanside is the planned site for a stadium to house a club in the North American Soccer League. In San Diego next year, an initiative seeking an MLS team for the Mission Valley site will go to a public vote.
Though the chants aren't prevalent in U.S. soccer leagues, a Los Angeles affiliate of MLS took actions to eliminate chanting of slurs at its games.
"The city of San Diego must not sit back and let this happen and become part of our soccer culture," Durfee said.
The stadium board suggested City Hall should "establish negotiations with future team owners and promoters" and engage "appropriate entities in San Diego communities such as the LGBT center."
Where San Diego might try, many others have failed.
Stadium general manager Mike McSweeney said organizers of the Gold Cup took "aggressive" measures such as playing looped messages, recorded in Spanish, asking fans to refrain from chanting gay slurs. In England, teams unable to eliminate slurs chanted by fans can face financial penalties through reducing the seating capacity of the stadium.
While it is easy for San Diego leaders to deem the chant offensive, the view is different in large swaths of the Mexican culture. U.S. journalists have found that Mexican are as offended at people on the U.S. side of the border trying to eradicate the chant as people here are offended by it.
In days leading up to the July 9 match in San Diego, CONCACAF launched a campaign aimed at curbing the penchant of Mexican fans to yell the infamous p-word on opposing goal kicks because, it reminded people, "OUR children are listening."
Didn't work, wrote Union-Tribune soccer writer Mark Zeigler. He added:
Really didn't work. The allegedly homophobic chant was as choreographed and deafening as ever, echoing across Mission Valley in a clear act of defiance.
"We never said we were going to do away with it tonight," one CONCACAF official said, with a hint of frustration. "We're working on it little by little."
San Diego agents for the MLS have said that if a team is planted in Mission Valley, exhibitions against Tijuana's club are envisioned for the San Diego site. Mexican journalists told the Union-Tribune in February that transplanted Mexicans living in San Diego County would flock to Mission Valley, if only to see the Tijuana team.
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