Spanish Football Fans Sing Chants that Justify Violence Against Women

Grada del grupo ultra del Betis, donde se iniciaron los cánticos. Foto de Gabriel Corbacho Bermejo en Flickr, con licencia CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In the background, Real Betis ultra-fans, where the chants began. Photo by Gabriel Corbacho Bermejo on Flickr under the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Go Rubén Castro! It wasn't your fault. She was a whore. You did good is a chant that certain hard-core fans of Real Betis, a Seville soccer club that currently plays in the second division, cheered from the sidelines in support of the team's forward, Rubén Castro, currently awaiting trial for allegedly abusing his ex-girlfriend. 

Rubén Castro, jugador del Betis. Foto de la web, con licencia CC BY-SA 3.0

Rubén Castro, Real Betis player. Photo from under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license

The story began in May 2013 when a young woman with whom Castro had a romantic relationship, filed a complaint against the soccer player, accusing him of hitting her during an argument. She also accused him of having forcibly taken her to a hotel, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her.

The latter accusation was dismissed by the judge in charge of the case, who nonetheless charged Castro with four counts of abuse and one count of threatening the woman, for which the prosecution requested a sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison. The judge also issued a restraining order against the player.       

Reportedly, this accusation sat particularly poorly with certain members of the Gol Sur Supporters the team's most extreme group of fans.

According to a number of witnesses,  a chant in support of Castro has become a crowd favourite at Betis games. The chant's offensive lyrics are sung to the tune of ‘Under the Sea‘ from Disney's The Little Mermaid.

Last weekend, a video uploaded by YouTube user Antonio Finidi Jarni went viral. In the video the song is clearly heard, but it was later deleted. The chants can also be made out at the start of this video.

From that moment on, comments criticising the chant began to intensify on social networks. On Twitter, netizens used hashtags #RubenCastro and #Betis to show their rejection:

Shameful #Betis fans. Disgusting, #RubenCastro. Get out of the stadiums, you mindless fools and may your “man” be sent to prison. MALE CHAUVINISM KILLS.

The Betis chant is revolting, nauseating, and disgusting. I don't understand how there can be people in this world that support gender violence. 

Betis ultra-fans supporting soccer player #RubenCastro despite allegations of abusing his wife. Outrageous and humiliating. 

After stating that they were “totally against gender violence” the Gol Sur Supporters published the following tweet on their official Twitter account on Sunday, implying that the culprits were not affiliated with the group: 

Without loudspeakers, we are not responsible for chants that can spark controversy, since this never happened before.

The next day, the group issued this statement, distancing itself from the authors of the chant: 

Statement on the chants for Rubén:

We are not going to allow the Betis image to be tarnished and if we have made a mistake by not identifying the people who shouted a chant in favor of gender violence, we ask for forgiveness and accept any measure taken against us. 

For all those who are still unclear: 

Gol Sur supporters condemn and stand against gender violence; as such, [the group] will identify and expel any member who defends abuse from the stands, taking it upon ourselves to completely eradicate this chant starting from the next match. 

Nevertheless, certain hot-headed fans justified the chants:

In this country of laughs, the woman brags about being a tramp and you get laughed at! Now more than ever, “go ruben castro, go ruben castro……. 

All this about Rcastro and Betis is being exaggerated. What if it were another player or f*cking Liga institution that is worse than the country. 

Other Twitter users said that these chants were nothing new: 

@elmundoes they've been chanting this for a year and a half… Go Ruben Castro

Zafra appears to be correct. Global Voices trawled Twitter, and found this tweet with lyrics chanted by the ultras that dates back to July 2013 (the compromising tweets continue to be deleted one-by-one):

"Go Rubén Castro, Go Rubén Castro, it wasn't your fault, she was a whore, you did good (8)"

“Go Rubén Castro, Go Rubén Castro, it wasn't your fault, she was a whore, you did good (8)”

Seville's Public Prosecutor has opened up proceedings to investigate the incidents, which according to the Law Against Violence in Sports, could lead to individual fines of up to €60,000 and a ban on accessing sports facilities for two years for those responsible of writing the chants.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Violence Commission has asked the Spanish Football Federation for a partial closure of the stands at the Benito Villamarín Stadium, the home of Real Betis. Spanish football authorities, in turn, have also asked Real Betis to provide any information that may help identify the authors in cooperation with the Public Prosecutor.

But controversy over the chant continues.

One user, Salvador, left the following comment on Carme Chaparro's blog entitled ‘My husband hits me a normal amount. When I deserve it. Like Rubén Castro's girlfriend‘:    

Lo de los cánticos en el futbol con semejante letra, miserable, machista e inhumana, da muestra del aborregamiento que sufren algunos individuos/as en colectivos semejantes, arropados por el grupo, sin conciencia propia.
Vergüenza debería darnos a todos y debe haber una respuesta tan contundente como si se tratase de violencia física en los estadios.
NO hay que rebajar la importancia de estas barbaridades. Falta educación.
Es repugnante

Soccer chants with such miserable, sexist, and inhumane lyrics show how certain people suffer from a herd mentality in similar collectives, swallowed by the group without their own consciousness.

We should all be ashamed and the response should be as strong as if the issue were about physical violence in the stadiums.  

We must NOT diminish the importance of these atrocities. There is a lack of education here. 

It is disgusting.

In contrast, Israel628 wrote in 20 minutos:

Que asco como sigan así estos desgobierno acabarán con el fútbol, donde queda la libertad de expresión, son cánticos que no van a ningún sitio, yo no tengo ni idea de si el es un maltratador y ella una impostora, solo se que los cánticos existen en el fútbol desde sus inicios.

It's awful how this misgovernment will end soccer, where is freedom of expression? They are chants that don't go anywhere. I have no idea if he's an abuser or if she's an impostor, but chants have existed in soccer since the sport began. 

While the chants were intended to show support for the player, they have had precisely the opposite effect since they have shone a public torchlight on him in a way that may not help him in his pending court case. The supporters singing them have also done nothing to enhance the reputation of the club they claim to defend. 

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