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There’s no place for homophobic abuse at football

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Last week two Derby County fans received three year football banning orders after admitting shouting homophobic abuse at Brighton and Hove Albion supporters.

Homophobic abuse is illegal and any fans who engage in such an activity risk a criminal record and lengthy ban from following their side.

The Football Supporters’ Federation opposes all forms of discrimination including homophobia and works with groups such as the Gay Football Supporters’ Network and Kick It Out to challenge such behaviour.

At the FSF’s Supporters Summit 2013 (held with Supporters Direct) the GFSN hosted a discussion on homophobia in football and how to tackle homophobic abuse.

This drew on research undertaken by the GFSN alongside the Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters’ Club shows that homophobic chanting and abusive language remains a big problem in English football. Both groups are affiliated to the FSF.

Homophobia isn’t banter

GFSN highlighted the fact that whereas most “banter” stays on the terrace, gay fans still face real abuse and physical danger in their lives outside of football.

This abuse can lead to physical attacks and even deaths. It is for this reason that it is vital not to allow a culture of casual homophobia to continue in football.

GFSN Chair Chris Basiurski said: “It is essential that football takes homophobia as seriously as racism. Quite rightly, racist language is regarded as wholly unacceptable and homophobic language should be treated in the same way.”

While homophobic abuse isn’t commonplace, it still hasn’t been stamped out entirely. The FSF’s 2012 Annual Survey found that 19.4% of respondents had seen or experienced homophobic abuse in or around a ground in the previous year.

But the majority of fans across the country oppose discriminatory abuse and want to see action taken against those found guilty of such offences.

More than 5,000 fans completed KIO’s Tackling Discrimination survey, carried out by Populus and supported by the FSF, GFSN, Level Playing Field and SD.

Nine out of ten fans said that tackling racism, homophobic abuse and abuse towards disabled people are important issues in football.

How do I report abuse?

The survey also showed that fans believe self-policing is vital in regulating behaviour in grounds but only half of fans know how to report abusive or discriminatory behaviour.

To help solve this problem KIO recently released a free app, endorsed by all Premier League and Football League clubs, which allows fans to report abuse anonymously.

Fans not familiar with such technology can still use the KIO Report It Form or call free phone on 0800 169 9414.

Thanks to Joe Dunckley for the image reproduced under CC license.

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