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Sports minister warns football fans they could be arrested for homophobic chants

Nick Duffy December 13, 2016
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The UK’s sports minister has warned football fans that they could face arrests for homophobic chants.

Conservative minister Tracey Crouch gave the warning today while appearing before a Parliamentary committee discussing homophobia in football.

During the session, Ms Crouch admitted she “doesn’t know” why there are currently no openly gay players in the top tiers of English football, calling for a stronger approach on the issue.

The last player to come out was Justin Fashanu, who came out in 1990, but died by suicide in 1998 after years of homophobic abuse and allegations of sexual assault.

Former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers and former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger have both come out as gay, but only after retiring from the English leagues.

Ms Crouch said: “I think what we need to do is make sure we tackle some of the homophobia in football – the small minority that chant, the small minority that actually commit a crime with homophobic chanting. It is on the same level in terms of law as race.”

Asked if people should be arrested for homophobic chanting, she said: “I see absolutely no reason why, in the same way we tackle other forms of discrimination at football, that we can’t tackle homophobia.

“I think there are means to deal with it. The Kick It Out app includes homophobic chanting, and you can be identified live to authorities in the ground.

“It’s a crime…. it’s a hate crime and you can be arrested. What is the difference, between that and chanting racist chants?

“I think everyone here would find it very difficult to sit down and draw a line on what is OK and is not OK in terms of hate crime, that’s not how it works in the law.

“A hate crime is a hate crime, and discrimination is discrimination. It needs to be taken incredibly seriously.”

She added:”It’s not just football – I know football is in the spotlight, but this inquiry was partly set up in response to reports of homophobia in boxing, like [anti-gay champ] Tyson Fury.

“The spotlight has gone onto football because it is the national game and because there are no out players, and clearly it’s incredibly disappointing.”

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