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Atlanta United condemns anti-gay chant heard at debut MLS game

It looked as if a win were in the cards for Atlanta's inaugural MLS match -- until the Red Bulls' second-half comeback.

MLS expansion club Atlanta United strongly condemned an anti-gay slur allegedly chanted by some of its fans during its nationally televised debut game on Sunday.

Atlanta's 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls drew 55,000 spectators -- the third most for an expansion team's curtain-raiser in MLS history -- to Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech's venue that Atlanta United is using until its permanent home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, opens this summer.

The atmosphere was electric, and the overwhelming majority of the supporters behaved themselves, but the slur could be heard, both inside the arena and on the FS1 broadcast, during several Red Bulls goal kicks.

"We strive to foster a positive, enthusiastic and inclusive environment for all fans, and inappropriate chants have no place at our matches," the team said in a statement provided to ESPN FC.

"Atlanta United does not support or condone the use of offensive language. Fans found to be participating in this behavior will be subject to removal from the building."

Atlanta United packed 55,000 people into Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sunday.

The chant is common in Mexico but has also been heard in the U.S. as well as at other MLS stadiums in the past, as well at the many Mexico national team games played north of the border.

FIFA fined the Mexican federation four times in 2016 in response to the chant, but Mexico isn't the only country where it is heard.

Late last year, world soccer's governing body issued fines to 10 other counties' federations in response to what they alleged was fans anti-gay behavior, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

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