Despite promises for a “robust prosecution policy” for dealing with homophobic football fans, a new investigation reveals frightening footage which includes small children joining in with chants of the word “faggot”.
The most senior police officer in England responsible for policing football admitted to Channel 4 Dispatches that there is still a serious problem with the under-reporting of hate incidents at football games.
DCC Andy Holt, National Policing Lead on Football Policing is featured in the wider Dispatches investigation which reveals as many as 20 homophobic incidents across three Brighton and Hove Albion matches.
Holt said: “I can clearly see that there’s some inappropriate behaviour going on, some of which may well merit an arrest…It could well be that nothing has happened and if that is the case then that is disappointing.“
This comes, despite a complaint by Brighton fans to the FA that they had been subjected to homophobic chants at over half of matches.
The footage also comes immediately after the announcement of new guidelines for dealing with football hooligans in England and Wales last August which addressed homophobic chanting for the first time, and warn that social media abuse of fellow fans or players will result in prosecution.
Chants, in which small children can be seen joining in, include: “It’s a long way home, you faggots”,“Get bumming him boys …Gayboy”, and “Do you take it up the arse?”
Darren Bailey, FA Director of Governance and Regulation, said in response to the footage from Dispatches: “Clearly footage that you’ve shown is of concern and we wouldn’t want to see any of that nature, in any of our grounds.”
“We all have a responsibility – clubs, supporters, players, law enforcement and the FA…We actually write out to all clubs that visit in advance of fixtures against Brighton, home and away to tell them and remind them of their responsibilities.”
“It may not be working as effectively as we would wish and we have to continue to squeeze out those number of incidents wherever we’re able to do so…We can only do this collectively. So we need the work of the police, we need the work of the crown prosecution service, we need the work of the judiciary.”
As well as homophobic chants, the programme also investigates other hate incidents including racist and anti-Semitic chants.
Hate on the Terraces – Channel 4 Dispatches, will air on Monday 3rd March at 8pm.