The San Jose Earthquakes have responded to the controversy surrounding the use of a homophobic chant by fans at their previous home match with a set of policies designed to prevent it from taking hold at Avaya Stadium.
During the Quakes 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium on June 25, fans around the stadium shouted "Puto!" with each goal kick taken by visiting 'keeper Brian Rowe. The slur was heard loud and clear over the television broadcast on Univision, furthering the impact on an audience estimated to be over one million viewers.
The chant, a fixture of games featuring the Mexican national team, is often cited as said all in good fun by supporters of El Tri. At Stanford, many fans joined in when the chant was used, not knowing the derogatory meaning of the word: a male prostitute. And at no time during the match did the public address announcer denounce its use.
Following the game, the Earthquakes organization released a statement condemning the use of the chant and promising that actions would be taken to limit its use at future games. Those policies were released by the club in a press release today, the day before the Quakes will celebrate Pride Night when they host FC Dallas at Avaya Stadium on Friday.
- Both teams will walk out onto the field for the National Anthem wearing Don't Cross the Line T-shirts.
- Both teams will hold a banner that reads ‘Say No to Hate Speech' during the National Anthem.
- The Quakes will be releasing a Public Service Announcement video involving the team's players, members of a supporters' group and sports personalities from Telemundo urging fans to use respectful language at all matches.
- The Quakes will have a PA announcement prior to the match reminding all fans of the rules and consequences.
- Members of various supporters' groups will have Tifos made.
- All fans seen or heard chanting inappropriate remarks will be warned once before being escorted from the premises upon a second violation.
While some of the steps that will be taken Friday night are specific to the game, the rest of the policies are intended to endure. The Earthquakes, like all teams in MLS, have no interest in having the "Puto!" chant take hold in their stadium. These guidelines are a good first step to ensuring such derogatory language does not become part of the experience at Avaya Stadium.
UPDATE: The club followed through on all aspects of the new policy before and during the Earthquakes 1-0 loss to FC Dallas Friday evening. The offensive chant was not heard at all, and no fans were ejected from the stadium for using hate speech.