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West Ham becomes first football club to threaten homophobes with a lifetime ban and seriously why isn’t every team doing this

Emma Powys Maurice February 4, 2020
West Ham

Fans arriving at West Ham's home ground, London Stadium (Jack Taylor/Getty)

West Ham has become the first ever UK football club to threaten homophobic fans with a lifetime ban, PinkNews understands.

The London club made the announcement after two male supporters were arrested for making homophobic gestures at a match against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that the pair have been released pending an investigation. If found guilty, West Ham will issue them with a permanent banning order preventing them from attending any of their team’s future matches, both at home and away.

Since 2013 all football clubs have been free to issue banning orders for homophobic behaviour. All banning orders are at the club’s discretion, and the duration of the order is usually between two and 10 years.

Lifetime bans are very rare but have previously been issued by Manchester City for racist abuse. An FA source told PinkNews that they believe this is the first time a club has ever threatened a lifetime ban for homophobia.

In a statement to Standard Sport, a West Ham spokesperson said: “West Ham United is disgusted to hear of alleged homophobic incidents at the game against Brighton & Hove Albion.

“The matter is now with the police but anyone found guilty of acting in a discriminatory manner will be banned for life from London Stadium and from travelling with the club.

“The club is unequivocal in its stance – we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination.

“Equality and diversity is at the heart of [West Ham] and we are committed to continue ensuring that everyone who enters London Stadium is free to enjoy watching their team play football in an inclusive environment.”

West Ham and beyond: Crackdown on homophobia in football.

Homophobia remains a pervasive problem in football despite many clubs’ attempts to discourage it at matches.

According to a study by Kick it Out in 2018, reports of homophobic abuse at football matches have increased by 9 per cent, with supporters regularly hearing slurs like “faggot” and “poof” being used against players and fans.

The problem has grown so bad that last week the former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas, who is gay, urged Boris Johnson to tackle the “black hole in the law” around homophobic football abuse.

He has been vocal about the issue of homophobia in sport and is lobbying to have the Football Offences Act 1991 updated to include homophobic abuse.

He said: “What happens in sport, I believe, in football definitely, is everyone in football is very good at reacting to situations. So we will have an act of racism, it hits the headlines, everyone comes out reacting in the right way.

“Another two or three months later another racist act or homophobic act or transphobic act will occur and everyone will react in the right way – but when you look at it seven months down the line, nothing has happened because everyone has reacted enough.”

Homophobic football fans already face immediate bans in Belgium, while in France the referees are instructed to stop play if any homophobic insults or chants are heard.

 

More: football, Football Association, Gareth Thomas, homophobia in football, West Ham

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