Homophobic chants at football stadiums ‘almost a regular thing’, say fans

Fans have said anti-LGBT chanting at football games has become more prevalent over the last 12 months.

Stuart Matthews, the founder of LGBT fan group Proud Seagulls, told the PA news agency homophobic chants are “almost a regular thing” for Brighton fans.

“It’s becoming more prevalent… we’ve seen an increase over the last 12 months of group chanting and we’re sick and tired of it,” the 53-year-old said.

“Most of the ones we get are ‘does your boyfriend know you’re here?’ and ‘we can see you holding hands’… or ‘you must be gay, you’re from Brighton’.”

Stuart Matthews is a Brighton fan (Stuart Matthews)

Mr Matthews said at an away game last year Manchester City fans had started the boyfriend chant, to which Brighton fans responded: “You’re too ugly to be gay”.

“It was good-natured and it shut them up – that was the good thing – but we shouldn’t be doing that,” he said.

Mr Matthews’ comments come after Chelsea claimed that a “large group” of Manchester United fans made homophobic chants at Monday night’s game between the clubs at Stamford Bridge.

PA understands the FA is not investigating Monday’s incident.

“I’ve got to say the FA were quick to clamp down on racism… they seem very reluctant when it comes to homophobia,” said Mr Matthews.

Chelsea v Manchester United – Premier League – Stamford Bridge
United won 2-0 at Chelsea on Monday night (Mike Egerton/PAA)

Newcastle fan Ian Pearson-Brown said he has “perhaps just been fortunate” not to have recently experienced similar large group chants, but said individual shouts are “relatively commonplace”.

“Only last season I was at a game and Mo Salah was being stretchered off and a guy behind me stood up and called him a poof for going down easily,” the 38-year-old said.

“Growing up I thought poof was a term of endearment but then I met my husband and he hated it, it made his skin crawl.

“But if I heard the word faggot, I used to find that really difficult to deal with and it had a huge impact on me.

“If you know there are historical connotations… or if in doubt, don’t use the term.”

Mr Pearson-Brown is chair of Newcastle’s United with Pride – one of many LGBT fan groups in the Premier League which were not around when he was growing up – and said he has dealt with mental health issues since realising he was gay aged 14.

“When I was in a football ground I would sit in a crowd of 52,000 people thinking I was literally the only person to hold this secret in the stadium and felt very isolated,” he said.

“If there had been the inclusion work there is now back then, I wouldn’t have had as many problems as I’ve had.”

Ian Pearson-Brown at a Newcastle game with friends (Ian Pearson-Brown)

Paul Amann founded Kop Outs, a Liverpool LGBT fan group, after hearing homophobic chants back in 2011.

“I remember watching the match when (Fernando) Torres returned to Anfield, playing for Chelsea,” the 51-year-old told PA.

“When a large proportion of the Kop started bellowing ‘Chelsea rent boys’, (me and a friend) just looked at each other and realised how little people appreciated how offensive this was.”

Since then Mr Amann has worked with allies across the Reds fanbase and says the prevalence of such anti-LGBT chanting at Anfield “has dropped substantially”.

“We know that by engaging and educating, we can make football a better place for all fans,” he said.