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Lib Dem minister: We need zero tolerance for homophobia in football

Nick Duffy August 17, 2014

Liberal Democrat minister Stephen Williams has called for a zero tolerance approach to homophobia in football.

The out Bristol West MP, who was promoted to Minister for Communities last year, called for the Football Association and football clubs to work alongside the police to tackle the problem of anti-gay slurs.

He said: “We need to stamp out homophobia on the terraces with the same vigour that we banished racism. It isn’t acceptable that footballers still feel the need to hide their sexuality out of fear of abuse.

“I want homophobia to be treated with zero tolerance just the same as racism and I want clubs, stewards, the police and FA to work even harder to achieve this aim.

“Football clubs in England and Wales have done a frankly remarkable job at cracking down on racism since it was rife in the 1970s.

“With the occasional exception that draws deserved criticism from fans, our game is leagues ahead of many of our European neighbours when it comes to integration.”

A Lib Dem spokesperson told the Mail: “The powers are already there. This doesn’t need fresh legislation – what it needs is a change of emphasis.”

West Ham football club recently announced a crackdown on homophobia.

Last month, actor Kieron Richardson received a barrage of homophobic abuse, after a news site confused him with a footballer of the same name, mistakenly reporting the Hollyoaks star had joined Aston Villa.

Female England footballer Casey Stoney and her partner Megan Harris recently announced that they are expecting twins, and say they hope being gay parents in the public eye will send a positive message.

In June, an anonymous closeted footballer claimed that his teammates refused to shower naked once they discovered his sexuality.

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