ESPN, Univision Continue To Broadcast Anti-Gay Slur Chants From World Cup
Intense attention has been paid by the international community to FIFA and sports broadcasters' handling of soccer's homophobic problem at the 2014 World Cup. As of Sunday, however, no major strides en ending the chants of anti-gay slurs at internationally-broadcasted matches had been achieved.
Prior to the broadcast of Mexico's match against the Netherlands, ESPN sportscaster Bob Lee read this disclaimer:
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.
Outsports' Cyd Zeigler reacts by saying, "There is some misinformation and misdirection here. First, the 'long-standing tradition' used to defend the practice is all of 10 years old. By this logic, the Washington Redksins - which have been around for for 82 years - should be beyond reproach."
"Also, while ESPN in fact does not control the international feed, they do control what is broadcast over their air," Zeigler adds. "They could easily mute the audio for a second when they know the slur is coming (and generally, they do know when it's coming). They choose not to do this. Some have argued ESPN has no control over the audio. There is no chance in hell lawyers signed a contract with FIFA that did not allow them to mute words that would put them in deep trouble with the FCC."
Though ESPN did not disagree with the "puto" chant (the Spanish equivalent of "faggot") in its "disclaimer," Univision did go a step further ahead of the match.
In a statement it provided to viewers ahead of the broadcast as well as to GLAAD, Univision said:
"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."
To be clear here, FIFA controls the international video and audio feed of the matches, the broadcaster are left to choose whether or not to air or bleep what FIFA has allowed through.
Zeigler ends his Outsports piece with some perspective: what if this was the N-word that fans were chanting?