Tory MP aims to make homophobic chanting at football matches illegal
A conservative MP has launched a bid to make homophobic chanting at football matches illegal.
Damian Collins chairs parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee wants to broaden the 1991 Football Offences Act in order to protect LGBT players and fans.
He will be joined by gay former Welsh rugby player, Gareth Thomas, on Monday to present a draft in parliament.
Ahead of the draft Mr Collins said: “Whilst, if enacted, the bill would protect LGBT+ fans and players in the UK, recent events, including at the World Cup, have once again demonstrated that homophobic abuse takes place at football matches the world over.
“Fifa and other sports governing bodies should take the necessary steps to ensure that homophobic abuse will never be tolerated and that action will be taken against people that engage in activities like these, no matter where the game is played.
“We hope that the bill will soon become law and will contribute to making football a sport that is truly open to everyone.”
The Football Offences Act made indecent or racist chanting, throwing objects inside premises and going onto the pitch without permission illegal, and is currently punishable with a fine of up to £1,000.
The Tory MP wants to amend the act to make “chanting or gesturing of an indecent nature with reference to either sexual orientation or gender identity” against the law.
The footballing body has vowed to take a tough tolerance stance to anti-LGBT discrimination at the tournament, despite the World Cup being held in a host country with an anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law and where homophobic sentiment is rife.
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It had launched a probe after the homophobic chant “puto” – an anti-gay epithet equivalent to “faggot” or “male prostitute” – was used by Mexico fans at the team’s match against Germany on Sunday (June 17).
In a statement, FIFA confirmed that it had issued a fine over the conduct.
“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Mexican Football Federation with a fine of CHF 10,000 ($10,030 USD) for the misconduct of a group of Mexican fans in relation to discriminatory and insulting chants during the first half of the 2018 FIFA World Cup match played between Germany and Mexico.”
It cited article 67 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, which states that the team can be found “liable for improper conduct among spectators.”
Mexico striker Javier Hernandez has urged the team’s fans to stop chanting at further matches, after FIFA threatened further action if the issue continues.
He said: “To all Mexican fans in the stadiums, don’t shout ‘pu–. Let’s not risk another sanction.”