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Aston Villa and Arsenal football clubs showed support for the queer community and homophobes hit back in their thousands

Josh Milton December 5, 2019
Football LGBT

Several football teams have backed a Stonewall initiative to show their support for the LGBT+ community. Not all fans were happy. (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

In today’s daily edition of ‘homophobes are mad at __’, the blank here are English football clubs supporting the LGBT+ community.

As a string of clubs back Stonewall’s rainbow laces campaign to help tackle homophobia in the sport, Aston Villa FC unveiled their new club crest which features the iconic lion kitted out in the Pride flag.

But as fellow teams decked their players in rainbow laces, homophobic fans hurled nauseated face emojis and revoked their support for the team.

Football has for decades been a sport plagued by anti-gay attitudes among fans, teams and managers. But while organisers clamp down on the act, homophobic chants from some fans remain commonplace.

Football club showing support for all fans fury from anti-LGBT+ fans.

AVFC released the redesign on the Facebook page, proudly displaying it as the club’s profile picture.

Posted by Aston Villa FC on Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Yet, the update was assailed by scores of homophobic fans, with more than 18,000 angry reacting to it compared to just 1,200 who loved it.

One Facebook user, marked as a ‘top fan’, proclaimed that: “Unlike the page and the club activity, too, we can’t support that promoted believes [sic].

“We condemn the sexual deviations.”

“Thank you for reminding me to unlike the page,” a clearly passionate supporter for AVFC said.

Another added: “Not this again.

“Why can’t a club just stick to the club colours?”

Gay Aston Villa fan starts pro-LGBT account to battle against the hate.

The barrage of homophobia was so intense that one AVFC fan even made an unofficial AVFC LGBT+ Twitter account:

“I started the account as I couldn’t see that there’s was much LGBTQ+ representation at Aston Villa,” the founder of the account told PinkNews.

“As a gay man who supports Villa, it just felt right to do.

“I was motivated after seeing how many people reacted negatively to Villa changed their badge to the pride badge. I just wanted to start something so that other villa fans like me could interact and support each other.

“There’s clearly an issue here and I want to reach out to people to not just have tolerance, but acceptance. This needs to be the case across football as a whole.

This is the second year that an AVFC Pride logo has attracted anger from fans, but last year’s edition saw just 800 angry reactions compared to 4,300 likes.

Football fans kicked off on the Arsenal Twitter page, too.

“Stop supporting nonsense and win matches,” wrote a user.

“This battyboi agenda didn’t succeed, isn’t succeed [sic] and will never succeed,” another user said.

Why are clubs kitting out in rainbows?

Across the country, football players will jog onto pitches on cold mornings and play routine matches.

But for matches held this weekend, dozens of teams will don rainbow laces to support the Stonewall campaign of the same name.

Seven in 10 football fans who’ve attended a match have heard or witnessed homophobia on the terraces, the AVCF said in a statement.

“We’re proud to be supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign once again, alongside our own ‘All In’ initiative,” said AVCF manager Dean Smith.

“Aston Villa is a football club that welcomes everyone to be Part of the Pride.”

Justin Fashanu became the UK's first openly gay footballer
No-one playing in the Premier League has come out since Fashanu.

Some remember Justin Fashanu as a tall, slender centre-forward who once won the BBC’s goal of the season award.

But to others, Fashanu is a symbol of the sport’s complicated and, at times, toxic relationship with sexuality.

Becoming the first male footballer to come out, he became a fixture of tabloid papers. While some welcomed him, many slammed him.

No other male footballers have come out in England’s top four divisions. Although, a few were allegedly close to doing so.

More: Facebook, football, Homophobia, sport, Stonewall, Twitter

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