Brighton wants football to take homophobia seriously
ALL the football chatter at the moment is focusing on fascism, thanks to Sunderland’s appointment of Paulo Di Canio. However, elsewhere, Brighton & Hove Albion are battling on another front, asking the Football Association to get tough with the regular homophobic abuse they receive from opposition fans.
Of course, Brighton is well known for it’s gay community and, with that, The Seagulls have long been the subject of derogatory chants. This has largely gone unmentioned and unnoticed by all quarters.
And the press wonder why there aren’t more gay footballers.
The Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters’ Club (BHASC), with the help of the Gay Football Supporters’ Network (GSFN), have lodged a report to the Football Association, claiming that Brighton fans have suffered homophobic abuse at at least 57% of their matches this season.
Some of the chants include: “we can see you holding hands”, “does your boyfriend know you’re here?” and Crystal Palace chanted “We scored three, you scored one, Brighton take it up the bum.”
Add chants about dying of AIDS and having HIV into the mix, and no-one can really argue that it’s all gentle banter. With players leaving the game after coming out or, indeed, the dreadful story of Justin Fashanu and his treatment by his peers, football does indeed have a problem. Graham Le Saux was another player who was infamously and publicly mocked for being gay, leaving him feeling “bullied” and wanting to quit football.
In 2002, former Brazil and Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was quoted as saying: “If I found out that one of my players was gay I would throw him off the team.”
A survey showed that one-in-four football fans (2,000 polled) said they felt football was anti-gay with two-thirds of fans saying that they felt that football would be a better sport if anti-gay abuse and discrimination was kicked-out. 70% of fans have heard anti-gay chanting in the last five seasons.
Watford fans will be familiar with chants like “He’s queer, he’s bent, his arse is up for rent, Elton John”. It isn’t just the stands where the problem lies. Brighton’s report also alleges that two opposition players directed homophobic gestures at Albion fans (last August away at Hull and during February’s visit of Blackburn, with the latter’s Colin Kazim-Richards currently under investigation over these allegations).
A Brighton game at Burnley last September, BBC Sussex had to apologise numerous times during a live broadcast about the homophobic chanting from the stands.
A statement from BHASC says:
“Brighton fans have been the subject of ‘banter’ about the city’s gay community for as long as many of our fans can remember. It wouldn’t be described as ‘banter’ if the taunts and chants were about skin colour and something would have been done by now to stop it.
“Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters’ Club has spent over 15 years trying to get the authorities to take this regular abuse of one club’s fans seriously. We would like our fans to be able to go to games with kids or their grandparents and not hear much of the stuff we are subjected to; it’s our basic human right.”
While homophobic chanting has indeed been banned by the FA since 2007, has anyone actually seen anything being done about it? Naturally, the FA can’t fix a problem like homophobia, in the same way it can’t stop racism existing in the world that surrounds it, but wouldn’t it be nice to see them making a stand against it?
Football has always been better than the numbskulls who make the loudest racket, but clubs need to make it clear that certain behaviour isn’t acceptable and kick off the education process by shouting loudly that discriminatory behaviour won’t be accepted in their grounds.