The Football Association has banned homophobic chants at matches.

The policy change comes after Tottenham Hotspur launched their campaign against homophobia in football in February 2006.

The club drew the FA’s attention to a growth of homophobic songs and chants which they described has “creeping into the game.”

Now the FA have moved to clamp down on anti-gay abuse from the terraces.

Originally, the association’s regulations for conduct at matches focused mainly on racial discrimination, with the only mention of sexual orientation appearing in regulations on the behaviour of players.

The regulations state that players were not to: “carry out any act of discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, race, colour, nationality, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.”

The FA rules call for everyone connected with football to “behave in a sporting manner.”

The regulations, that have been signed by all Premier League and Football League clubs, now explicitly target homophobia as unacceptable, and the FA has provided a hotline to report any discriminatory behaviour.

Sanctions will include being barred from the game entirely.

The FA’s Equality Manager, Lucy Faulkner said:

“We believe football must be open to everyone in our society. We believe football truly is the national game and abuse of any kind is unacceptable.

“We’ve made clear our opposition to homophobia in football and believe attitudes are changing. This will help raise further awareness of the issues.”

The changes are in keeping with the FA’s current campaign Football For All, through which the organisation strives for equality regardless of ability, race, religion or background.

Tottenham’s policy of zero tolerance for homophobic behaviour, and the implementation of a special hotline for victims to report discrimination, were applauded by both the FA and the Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, who urged supporters and players to be “supportive, not abusive.”

The FA’s discrimination hotline number is 0800 085 0508 or they can be contacted by email: footballforall@thefa.com