Univision, ESPN Condemn But Still Air Antigay Slurs at World Cup

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com June 30 2014 2:13 PM ET

Univision has spoken out against the antigay slurs being chanted by World Cup fans during games, though it and ESPN do not excise them from their broadcasts.

The Spanish-language television network aired a statement preceding and at the halftime of Sunday’s Mexico versus Netherlands game, reiterating its support of the LGBT community and condemning the yelling of the Spanish slur “puto,” translatable to “faggot.” The word was frequently shouted by audience members to distract goalies and other players throughout the game.

“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,” the statement read. “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,” it continued. “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.”

In preparing the statement, Univision had worked with the Spanish-Language Media team of GLAAD, an organization that advocates for the positive representation of the LGBT community in television. The collaboration was part of GLAAD’s #StopTheSlurs campaign, which works to end antigay slurs in stadiums worldwide.

Preceding the Mexico versus Netherlands match, sportscaster Bob Levy also read a statement that distanced ESPN, which also aired the game, from the homophobic language, reports OutSports. Like Univision, ESPN did not mute or cut the slurs from its broadcasts, though Levy claims than his nework "does not control the audio and video" of the games.

“This is a long-standing tradition at Mexican national team matches,” Levy said. “The word is an antigay 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.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president, applauded Univision’s statement but also stressed the need for FIFA, the governing organization of the World Cup, to take action and respond to the widespread chanting of “puto.” At present, FIFA has taken no formal steps toward to ameliorate this issue, despite a formal complaint lodged by the group Football Against Racism in Europe.

"Univision has taken an important step by standing in solidarity with LGBT fans and calling for an inclusive World Cup, but LGBT fans and allies around the world are still waiting for FIFA to end its silence," Ellis said. "FIFA's decision to ignore this issue flies in the face of the spirit of the World Cup, one of unity and respect. FIFA should take this opportunity to educate and join the movement for equality in sports."