Ventura Alvarado has a unique perspective on the US-Mexico rivalry in international soccer. Born in Arizona of Mexican immigrants, Alvarado is a member of the United States national team but plays his club soccer for Mexican juggernaut Club America. As such, he understands both sides of the Rio Grande and one of the most bitter rivalries in sports, including a now lighting rod topic involving the Puto chant.
Attend an El Tri match in the United States or in Mexico City and the word Puto is yelled in unison after goal kicks, thousands upon thousands of voices lustily echoing it as soon as the opposing goalkeeper sends the ball from the six-yard box down towards midfield. The word has strong homophobic undertones - to put it mildly - and yet it has become a staple of every Mexican national team home and abroad. Even club teams see their fans use the chant.
Several weeks ago in an exhibition against the New York Red Bulls, Club America fans by the thousands rained down the chant on the Red Bulls goalkeeper. Alvarado traveled with Club America but did not play in what was a 2-0 loss by the Mexican side.
“It’s pretty hard because over there they don’t see it the same way they see it here. It is kind of offensive for a lot of people,” Alvarado said. “It’s pretty hard to comment on that.”
Alvarado, a 23-year old defender, has represented the United States 13 times on the international level.
Last week, Chicago Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said that any fans doing the chant in their stadium would be expelled. MLS is trying to stamp out the chant and even locally New York City F.C. has had issues with some of their supporters taking the chant and using it after goal kicks.
For the exhibition match in July, Red Bull Arena was roughly 90 percent Club America fans as New York season ticket holders, who got tickets for the match in their season ticket package, sold-off what was a meaningless game. Mexican fans of the team were only all too eager to buy up the tickets on the secondary market for the rare chance to see their team in the New York City area. The yellow jerseys of the Mexican club dominated the soccer-specific stadium.
So too did the chant, echoing throughout every corner of Red Bull Arena after every goal kick from Kyle Reynish. As for Alvarado, the Mexican-American son of Mexican immigrants who wears the red, white and blue for the national team isn’t a fan of the chant.
A chant that he has heard many times representing the United States against the country of his parents’ birth.
“You go to Latin places like Guatemala or places like that it’s way worse, worse than in Mexico. It’s different everywhere,” Alvarado said.
“But here, it’s kind of really offensive. I don’t really like it personally.”