The Football Association are set to investigate an alleged homophobic chant that was directed at Everton manager Frank Lampard.
On 6 January, Manchester United and Everton FC went head to head in the third round of the FA Cup.
While the match featured impressive plays from both teams, the event’s second half took a homophobic turn when a group of Manchester fans chanted “Chelsea rent boy.”
The anti-LGBTQ+ statement was directed at Lampard, who led a long and successful career at Chelsea FC before starting his manager role at Everton.
A day after the match, Machester released a statement slamming fans for their offensive and archaic behaviour.
“Homophobia, like all forms of discrimination, has no place in football. Manchester United is proud of our diverse fan base and the work we have done to reduce instances like we sadly heard today,” the club wrote on 7 January.
“We will continue to campaign for inclusivity and to tackle discriminatory abuse, whether inside stadiums or online. This includes working with fan groups to educate fans on the offence which discriminatory languages cause.”
Following Manchester’s statement, the FA announced its intention to work with the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate the homophobic incident.
“We strongly condemn the use of the term ‘rent boy’, and we are determined to drive it out of our game,” they said (per The Athletic).
“We continue to work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, as well as the UK Football Policing Unit, in relation to the use of this term.
Everytime Chelsea play, ourselves, Chelsea Pride and other organisations should not have to call out homophobic chanting.
It’s exhausting. Call it out in the stands. Call it out, no exceptions.
It’s time to kick homophobia out of football, sport and in general. https://t.co/lA4O2yDcuu
— Pride in Football 🏳️🌈⚽️ (@PrideinFootball) January 6, 2023
“We stand firmly against all forms of discrimination, and we are striving to ensure our game is a safe environment for all, which truly embraces diversity and challenges hateful conduct both on and off the pitch.”
In response to the FA and Manchester’s support, Everton told Reuters: “The club has zero-tolerance policy on all forms of discrimination and welcomes the statements from the FA and Manchester United.”
For decades, football fans of opposing teams have used the offence chant when referring to Chelsea FC and its past and present players.
In recent years, some of the Premier League’s most popular football clubs – like Liverpool and Leeds – have come out condemning the slur.
The CPS have also defined the chant as a hate crime, with the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, Max Hill QC, describing it as “vile and disgusting.”
“Hate crime has no place within society, let alone sport,” he told Mirror Sport in January 2022.
However, despite pushback from the football industry and British authorities, fans have continued to hurl the harmful phrase.
Back in October, Manchester fans used the chant during the team’s Stamford Bridge match against Chelsea (per Sky Sports).
A year prior, Chelsea loanee Billy Gilmour, who was playing for Norwich City at the time, was harassed by Liverpool enthusiasts after the two team’s played against each other in August.