Castleford rugby club bans three fans for Gareth Thomas abuse
Castleford Tigers rugby club said on Friday it had banned three fans for shouting homophobic abuse at Welsh player Gareth Thomas.
The club was fined £40,000 by the Rugby Football League (RFL) for the incident, which happened during Thomas’ second game for the Crusaders in March.
Castleford chief executive Richard Wright said that more people could be barred from the stadium and asked fans to report any instances of abusive chanting.
He said: “We are determined to ensure that the Jungle remains a great place to be for a family day out and it is hoped that banning people who behave inappropriately will make anyone think twice in future about offensive chanting of any kind, or any other anti-social behaviour
“During the Crusaders game there was evidence on the DVD of offensive chanting but it was not clear and did not last long. It took a while for spectators to work out what was chanted and most fans did not hear anything. As a result it was not possible to identify the perpetrators on the day.
“The people banned will have a right to appeal at the end of the season but in these cases there is a likelihood of the ban being extended.
“Chanting is part of the game and long may it be so but it should be positive and encouraging. Hopefully, home and away the fans will respond in the right manner.
“We also hope that respectable fans, who form the vast majority of the support base at The Jungle, will help us by reporting any obscene behaviour through the well-established mechanisms that we have put in place.
“The Tigers are one of the most robust in Super League at promoting an inclusive environment for all sections of the community and we pride ourselves on this fact.”
Following the match, Thomas said he was “pretty hurt” by the abuse, which came only three months after he came out as gay.
Castleford must pay £20,000 of the money now with half suspended until 2011. The club must also pay £20,000 from an earlier suspended fine.
When the decision to fine the club was announced by the RFL, Mr Wright said he was “shocked and disappointed” and that there was not enough evidence to support the decision.
In a statement on Friday, he said that Castleford does not condone homophobic chanting in any way but will appeal the “disproportionate” fine.