The Gay Football Supporters Network has said that homophobic taunts and chanting at matches should be treated as such, and not labelled “indecent.”
The group spoke out after police charged 11 people, including a 13-year-old boy, with “indecent chanting” after Portsmouth FC’s Sol Campbell was targeted by Tottenham Hotspur fans during a game in September.
Indecent or racist chanting is an offence under the Football Offences Act 1991 and carries a fine of up to £1,000 and a football banning order.
Chris Basiurski, campaigns officer for the GFSN says:
“We feel that the message here is not strong enough.
“Homophobia is rife in football and needs to be addressed directly.
“By citing “indecent” and not “homophobic” the charges fail to address our main concern, that the Tottenham Hotspur supporters have used unacceptable homophobic abuse against an opposition player.
“It seems as though the football community is often scared to use the word “homophobic.”
“At the game, the vast majority of travelling away supporters were involved in abusive chanting to Sol Campbell, their former captain, including the now notorious “Lord of the dance”/swinging chant, although we understand that not all of the charges relate to this one chant.
“The chants alluded to Mr Campbell’s mental state and his sexuality.
“Following the incidents, certain sections of the media and groups such as the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust refused to use the word “homophobia” to describe the abuse.”
Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur will meet again this Sunday at White Hart Lane, the Spurs ground.
Portsmouth FC said there was a “possibility of heightened tension” and warned fans they face a ban and police action if they cause disorder or take part in indecent chanting.
Homophobic abuse is against the rules at every Premier League and Football League club.
The Football Association’s decision to amend the ground regulations was approved in 2007 after consultation with the leagues.
Tottenham Hotspur said in a statement:
“The Club does not tolerate abusive, offensive or obscene chanting, including anything of a homophobic nature.
“The behaviour of fans will be under the spotlight at this match. We shall take action against anyone seen or heard to be guilty of any such offence.
“There will be an increase in police presence both outside and inside the stadium, increased stewarding and a doubling of headcams.
“We have previously banned individuals due to unacceptable behaviour – please do not put us in the position where we are forced to take such action.
“Full houses at the Lane have always provided terrific inspiration to the team and this will be vital on Sunday.
“Please focus your energies on cheering your team to victory.”