It seems that Olympic soccer fans are winning the gold medal once again for being the worst homophobic fans out there. Our Chicago Fire Soccer Team Silences Anti-Gay Chant blog showed some hope in taming the homophobic mob mentality that pops up at soccer matches. That's definitely not the case in Rio.
Reports say that out LGBT soccer players from the United States, Canada and Australia had to endure anti-gay chants from fans in their opening matches in Rio.
Soccer fans at the opening matches of the Olympic women's soccer tournament chanted homophobic slurs, among other horrible things, at various players on Wednesday. Reports from various sources say the Portuguese term "bicha" was tossed around liberally by fans during the matches; That is similar to the "puto" chants we have heard from fans of Mexico and other Latin American countries.
While some are claiming that the chant was "Zika," various outlets have reported hearing both "Zika" and "bicha" during the matches.
The Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter, who is in Brazil covering the Olympics, said that the homophobic slur was aimed at the U.S. Women's National Team during its 2-0 victory over New Zealand on Wednesday. At least one of the USWNT players — Megan Rapinoe — is gay, as is head coach Jill Ellis. While the "Zika" chants aimed at Hope Solo were bad enough, targeting out LGBT people with anti-gay slurs is the lowest of the low.
To be clear, reports say that, despite sounding similar, there were separate chants of "Zika" and "bicha."
"It is personally hurtful," Rapinoe told Baxter. "I think sort of a mob mentality kind of takes over a little bit."
The chant surfaced during the Australia-Canada match as well, in which at least four players identify publicly as LGBT. One of those players is Stephanie Labbé, the Canadian goalkeeper. Given the chant surfaces when the goalkeeper occupies the ball, it's particularly gross that they would use it specifically targeting Labbé.
The use of "bicha" by fans in men's matches isn't new. Janet Lever talks about it in her 1995 book, Soccer Madness: Brazil's Passion for the World's Most Popular Sport, describing up to 100,000 people chanting the slur in unison. However, it's a bit odd for the slur to surface in women's matches, as it's a term aimed at men.
What will the IOC do to stop this? It's clear that FIFA's fining of the teams with offending fans hasn't sent home the message. I imagine if the IOC ordered stadiums cleared of fans when these chants arise, that might have a more impactful effect on the slurs' usage. Don't expect the IOC to have the guts to do that anytime soon. Hell, it's the Brazilian fans chanting in Portuguese, so the host nation may not have a big problem with it. – outsports.com
Will we see this / hear this kind of treatment at other sports where out players are competing?
Would we hear bicha at a soccer game even if all the players were straight? It doesn't lessen the ignorance, but I think so. It may be like the moronic chant "sieve" thrown at an ice hockey goalie. We know he's not a kitchen tool full of holes, but we still chant it.
Local journalists said it wasn't personally directed at the `keepers, but an offensive habit which first reared during the 2014 World Cup, when Arena Corinthians hosted the tournament opener. – smh.com.au
Sounds like the good ol' boys homophobic locker room banter of gay and faggot have found a welcoming home in the stands.
Are we going to hear rude fans at swimming or diving competitions where the players are more out and proud? One such player that we hope is not jeered for his sexuality is Olympic Tonga swimmer Amini Fonua.
While Outsports has seen more male athletes come out in swimming over the last five years than almost any other sport, only two male swimmers in the Rio Olympics are publicly out. One of them is Tonga's Amini Fonua, who swam for Texas A&M and competing in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Fonua received a swimsuit a while back from what was then called the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, complete with the name of the organization on the back of the swimsuit. Fonua has not shied away from wearing it wherever he can, but he's made it a point of doing so around other elite swimmers.
"I have worn that suit to every single practice leading up to Rio, because there's not a lot of diversity in swimming," Fonua told the Center's Jim Key. "It's a gentle reminder to everybody and myself that I'm different, and to take pride in that difference."
That's the kind of attitude and visibility that helps make it so much easier for the next person to come out. – outsports.com
Many of us were focused on another athlete from Tonga, the oiled up muscular flag bearer Pita Taufatofua (Olympic Opening Ceremony Was A Hot Oily Mess, We Liked It Booking Flight To Tonga As We Speak). But we hope that Amini Fonua reperesents his nation well once again in Olympic swimming. He will compete Saturday in the 100-meter breaststroke.
We don't think we will be hearing any homophobic slurs at any of the watersports, unless it rears it's ugly head at water polo.