As one of the two newest teams in Major League Soccer, Atlanta has some catching up to do. Establishing traditions, building a fan base and creating its own unique game day atmosphere are all part of any MLS club evolution.
And this week Atlanta’s front office took a big step in the positive direction.
During Sunday’s home opener against the New York Red Bulls, some fans were heard chanting the offensive anti-gay slur, “puto.” The chant was popularized years ago by Mexican fans and has since become commonplace in many Latin American matches where the archaic and shameful “machismo” culture often dominates.
Naturally, that goes directly against the type of atmosphere U.S. teams hope to establish within their fan bases. In response, Atlanta United released a statement condemning the actions and hopefully deterring future chants.
From the club:
“Atlanta United does not support or condone the use of offensive language,” the statement said. “We strive to foster a positive, enthusiastic and inclusive environment for all fans, and inappropriate chants have no place at our matches. Fans found to be participating in this behavior will be subject to removal from the building.”
The MLS has a well laid-out code of conduct and by strongly denouncing Sunday’s actions from a group of its supporters, Atlanta United is standing up for not only the future of the U.S. league, but what the future of global soccer should look like.
Now, the only question remains is what action will be taken if future chants persist. Will fans be ejected from the stadium? Taken into police custody for hate crimes?
Given the diverse makeup of MLS fan bases, we’ll likely be talking about this subject throughout the season.