Kick It Out and #PrideinFootball issue statements on homophobic chanting
Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, and #PrideinFootball, a network of LGBT fans’ groups, have issued statements after footage emerged online of homophobic chanting by Arsenal supporters prior to their FA Cup semi-final fixture against Reading at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (18 April).
Roisin Wood, Director of Kick It Out, said: “We strongly condemn the homophobic chanting led on stage by a band of Arsenal FC supporters, with a group of the club’s fans joining in, prior to their FA Cup semi-final fixture against Reading FC.
“We have informed the Police and Arsenal FC of the footage which has emerged of the incident, and will continue to liaise with both parties on this matter. We expect to see a full investigation undertaken by the Police and for appropriate action to be taken.
“Through our ‘Fans for Diversity’ campaign, run in partnership with the Football Supporters’ Federation, we have organised and supported a number of initiatives focusing on tackling LGBT discrimination and creating a more inclusive environment for LGBT fans.
“This incident highlights the extent of the battle and the challenges faced in addressing LGBT discrimination across football, and it is vital that collective responsibility is taken throughout the game to confront these issues when they arise.”
The statement from #PrideinFootball reads: “We deplore the public and organised homophobic chanting which was heard before the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday. The song, which appeared to be well rehearsed, was led by an on-stage vocalist with an Arsenal tribute band, encouraging others to join in. This is unacceptable in 2015, and could be construed as inciting hatred.
“The actions, and those involved, should be fully condemned and dealt with using the full force of the law and club jurisdiction. Hate crime such as this transcends sporting rivalry. The gaygooners, Proud Lilywhites, Canal Street Blues and Proud Canaries – working together under the banner of #PrideinFootball – ask all football governing bodies and the wider community to demand that this incident be fully investigated and charges brought against the organisers.
“We call upon The Football Association, football clubs, Premier League, Football League and the Police to fully investigate and bring charges under the Public Order Act. We acknowledge the ground-breaking work in combatting homophobia at Arsenal FC and expect the Board to take action against those fans in breach of the club’s own standards.”