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Homophobic chants are part of football tradition, French league boss says

Nick Duffy March 27, 2019
Players from French football teams Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille

Players from French football teams Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty)

The head of the French football league has backtracked, after suggesting that homophobic chants are part of footballing tradition.

Nathalie Boy de la Tour, the head of the Ligue de Football Professionne (LFP), weighed in after homophobic chanting was reported at the March 17 match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and Olympique de Marseille.

French football boss: Homophobic chants are common at games

In an interview with French-language newspaper Le Parisien published on Monday (March 25), she said that the comments were part of football’s traditions and culture.

She said: “I’m not excusing what happened. [But] when it comes to homophobic chants, for many fans, it’s part of folklore. This is the reality. The majority of fans don’t feel that they are hurting others.”

Nathalie Boy de la Tour, president of the Professional Football League (LFP)
Nathalie Boy de la Tour, president of the Professional Football League (LFP) (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty)

The football boss said that she attends more than 50 matches a year and “these are things we hear regularly” at games.

She added: “What you hear inside the stadium, you would not hear outside when you go shopping.

“When it comes to homophobic chants, for many fans, it’s part of folklore.”

—Nathalie Boy de la Tour, president of the Professional Football League

“The statements taken out of context are not acceptable. Now, inside the stadium it is not acceptable as such, but it is part of the [tradition and culture].”

Boy de la Tour added that the starting point is to educate fans to help them realise “behind the words, people can be hurt and feel targeted. And that’s not acceptable.”

LGBT+ campaigners challenge football boss over comments

The comments were challenged by SOS Homophobie, a French organisation working to raise awareness against LGBT-phobia and support victims.

In a tweet, the group said: “To consider, as the President of LFP does, that homophobic songs are part of football folklore, is to minimise and tolerate homophobia.

“These practices must be strongly condemned, prevented and punished.”

According to the Associated Press, Boy de la Tour later clarified that she “condemns all homophobic words” and had not been attempting to excuse the conduct.

SOS Homophobie noted in a tweet that Boy de la Tour “[assures us that she] unequivocally condemns all homophobia in football and stadiums.

The group added: “SOS Homophobie reaffirms the importance of unwavering condemning homophobic behaviour and speech, of educating the public and providing appropriate sanctions.”

Earlier this month, former France captain Patrice Evra was condemned by football club Paris Saint-Germain for making homophobic comments online.

More: Europe, France, France, French, Homophobia, sport

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