LGBT athletes targeted with 'hurtful' homophobic slurs at Rio Olympics

Players from US Women's National Soccer team has said that they have been targeted with abusive homophobic chants from the crowds during their match last Thursday (August 4). Megan Rapinoe, the midfielder for the US women's team and one of the 44 LGBT athletes competing in Rio, told The Los Angeles Times that she heard chants of the word "bicha", a derogatory terms which translates roughly translates as "faggot" in Portuguese. "It is personally hurtful," Rapinoe continues. "I think a sort of a mob mentality kind of takes over." Rapinoe says while she doesn't believe the chants were aimed at her or anyone on the team in particular, crowds attending the Games "need to understand that that’s how it’s taken. They need to understand if all of you are willing to do that, what does that say to a gay player? Especially in the men’s game." Similar chants were heard during the Australia-Canada match, in which four of the players identified as LGBT. Carolina Almiron, a FIFA spokeswoman, however, told The Times that she didn't hear any homophobic chants being said by the crowds while she was watching the game. Almiron continued to say that it isn't an issue that FIFA would take action over unless there was a "formal protest" from the US team. "I don’t think that all Brazilians fans or everyone that was there last night is homophobic," Rapinoe added. "But I think that they are complicit in it as long as they’re doing it. "FIFA can crack down as much as they want but it’s up to individuals in the stands to not participate in that kind of behaviour." Words: Bryan Bernal More stories: Team GB's LGBT Olympians: When and where to watch them Two men shared an intimate kiss during the 2016 Rio Olympic torch relay