SPORT

Brighton Fans Demand Authorities Combat Homophobia In Football

03/04/2013 13:07 BST

Brighton fans have implored the football authorities to combat the level of homophobia in football after such abuse has featured in 72% of the club's games this season.

The Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters' Club (BHASC) report claims the Seagulls' supporters have been subjected to homophobic abuse in 70% of away games and 57% of home games this campaign. Brighton boasts one of the country's largest gay communities, and the Football Association, the Football League and the Football Supporters' Federation all received copies of the report on Tuesday in a bid to raise "public awareness".

"Brighton fans have been the subject of 'banter' about the city's gay community for as long as many of our fans can remember," said Sarah Watts, secretary of BHASC. "It wouldn't be described as 'banter' if the taunts and chants were about skin colour and something would have been done by now to stop it.

"Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters' Club has spent over 15 years trying to get the authorities to take this regular abuse of one club's fans seriously. We hope that this report will increase public awareness and help educate our fellow members of the football family of the issues faced, to address them and, ultimately the need to treat each other with basic respect."

A 'Professional Game Equality Workshop' is being mooted for the start of the 2013-14 season by the FA but despite their efforts to combat the abuse, the organisation has been criticised for not being stringent enough in their approach.

Three years ago, they, along with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), the Premier League and the Football League, did not respond to a survey carried out by Staffordshire University of 3,500 fans, players, referees and other officials, with the majority of respondents believing clubs and agents are unfairly pressuring gay players into silence.

brighton fans

Brighton fans are often subjected to homophobic slurs

The PFA did however request professional footballers to appear in a campaign video against homophobia in 2011, however players refused because they feared being ridiculed for taking a stand against one of sport's most stubborn taboos, according to The Independent. Instead the FA produced a generic viral campaign video which was unsurprisingly pulled.

In Holland, the Dutch Football Association's 'Gay? There's Nothing Queer About It' advert which aired earlier this season generated praise across the continent.

An FA spokesman said: "We're aware of the report as the Gay Football Supporters Network are an organisation that has worked alongside the FA on tackling homophobia in football for a number of years. We continue to work with Brighton & Hove Albion, the supporters' club and the Football League to review when incidents are occurring and reinforcing the action that the relevant home clubs should take.

"This has included better briefing to stewards, establishing an agreed and robust police response if required and working with the home club on educational messages to be used before matches. The FA is totally committed to supporting Football v Homophobia, ensuring the game is inclusive and combating discrimination of all types."