When Toronto FC’s Joe Bendik took goal kicks during the team’s 1-1 draw Wednesday against the Fire at Toyota Park, an unfortunate cheer was heard coming from some in the crowd.
Some fans chanted a Spanish slur against homosexuals toward the goalie just as he kicked in hopes of disturbing his delivery. The sound was easily audible during the game, and comments about it appeared on social media.
On Thursday, the Fire released a statement to the Sun-Times condemning the usage of the cheer at Toyota Park or anywhere else.
“Spirited chants and visual displays of support are an important part of the soccer experience, but there is no place for offensive references to sexual orientation, ethnicity or insults of any kind,” the team said. “The Chicago Fire Soccer Club will continue to work with our supporters’ association to promote sportsmanship and respect for all players, coaches and fellow fans.”
The Fire and their fans have lived up to that.
At the Pride Parade on Sunday, forward Quincy Amarikwa and defender Gonzalo Segares appeared on the team’s float. Before a game May 18 at Toyota Park, fans in the northern Harlem End displayed a large banner with the words CHICAGO LOVES above a giant rainbow flag.
And after missing a potential game-winning penalty kick April 5, forward Mike Magee was taunted on Twitter by somebody who called him another slur against homosexuals. Magee responded by posting a photo of himself that showed LOVE IS LOUDER written on his right palm.
Jeff Marinacci, chairman of the Section 8 Chicago Independent Supporters Association, said when he heard the chant Wednesday he found it “unacceptable.” He said his group constantly monitors fans in the Harlem End and tries to educate supporters. The Fire and supporters share a charter that’s a mutual commitment to each other and to anybody who attends a match, and part of that outlines what kind of language and behavior is and isn’t acceptable.
NOTE: The Fire said they have sent forward Juan Luis Anangono on a six-month loan to Ecuador’s LDU Quito. Anangono was the Fire’s designated player but started only four league games, scoring twice.