Several games have recently been subjected to homophobic chants from fans.
Stonewall has called on football stewards to be trained to recognise homophobic chants during football matches. The comments came after a Manchester United match against Chelsea became the latest match to be marred by homophobic chants.
Manchester United fans are said to have been chanting a song about Chelsea rent boys throughout the match. Although both Manchester United and Chelsea condemned the chant, it’s understood the FA will not investigate it.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Robbie de Santos, Stonewall UK’s director of sport, said: “We need to see more training specifically targeted at stewards – they need to feel more confident in knowing what LGBT discrimination looks like.”
He added that although stewards knew how to confront racism, there was a “grey area” surrounding homophobia. He added that lifetimes bans for homophobic fans “don’t necessarily have to be the only answer” and that punishment should be given to change behaviour.
Robbie also noted despite strides made since the 1990s, hate speech at football matches is on the rise, saying: “I’m keen to clarify this is not an endemic problem but that minority of fans is going to spoil the experience for the majority if all of us don’t stand up and play our part.”
Tracy Brown, the co-chair of LGBTQ fan group Chelsea Pride, was at the match and told the PA: “I was getting messages from people watching at home who could clearly hear it.
“The FA need to treat homophobia the same as every other form of discrimination and investigate the incident.”
Last year, French officials stopped a football match after fans were heard to be using homophobic slurs. The chants were reportedly aimed at league authorities, and the match continued after players from Nancy asked fans to calm down.
Marlène Schiappa, France’s equality minister, praised the referee, Mehdi Mokhtari, writing on Twitter: “Congratulations to referee Mehdi Mokhtari for bravely interrupting the match, as allowed by the regulation, in the face of homophobic songs sung at Nancy-Le Mans.
“Football is a passionate sport. It must remain so for everyone.”