Banning homophobic chanting is the latest attempt to make watching football an indecent joyless experience
THE Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have issued guidelines warning fans that they would pursue a “robust prosecution policy” against homophobic chanting.
Already “racialist or indecent chanting” at football is a criminal offence under section 3 of the Football Offences Act 1991.
In Scotland, the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012 has made sectarian chants at football a criminal offence punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.
So. Is chanting “Does your boyfriend know you’re here?” at Brighton fans a “hate crime”.
The guidelines seeks to clear up any misunderstanding:
“We recognise, as do the overwhelming majority of decent fans, that there is a place for humour in football, but where the line between humour and offensive behaviour is crossed then positive action will be taken.”
Some “decent” fans don’t think there is room for humour in football.
And who patrols the humour/offence frontline, then? Who says what is and what is not funny or offensive?
Nick Hawkins, lead sports prosecutor at the CPS has a measure:
“We’ve seen a welcome rise in recent years in the numbers of families attending football matches together as a result of friendlier atmospheres inside grounds, and that’s a trend that we’d all like to see continue.”
I for one really enjoyed live football because the experience of standing on the terraces was raw, abusive and vulgar. Chanting that Paul Gascoigne was “fatter than you and me and going to Italy” was a joy. Having the “wings of a sparrow and the arse of a crow to shit on the Tottenham below” was also fun. I also liked heralding Glenn Hoddle as the “Queen of Golders Green”. On one occasion, I looked up from the caged away fans towards the White Hart Lane Shelf to see an Irish Catholic Spurs supporting friend of mine calling our mutual Jewish friend stood by my side a “filthy yok”.
All unpleasant. And all utterly enjoyable.
If someone near me had asked me to stop, I would have. If a song goes too far, I’d trust other fans to tell the chanter to shut up. I’ve seen it happen. Cowed the big mouth shuts it. The aim of offensive chant is to upset the opposition. The aim is to be offensive. To make what offends one set of ears against the law is the thin end of the wedge. More braces will be applied to free speech. What is an indecent chant? Answer: whatever the police and State want it to be.
Posted: 2nd, September 2013 | In: Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink