Arsenal manager says homophobic abuse should not be tolerated

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A leading football coach has said insults of any kind should not be tolerated after a Portsmouth player was targeted with homophobic and racist abuse.

Portsmouth’s Sol Campbell, a former England defender, was subject to abusive taunts from the crowd during a Premiership game against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Tottenham fans reportedly dislike Mr Campbell due to his transfer from Tottenham to rival team Arsenal in 2001.

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said today:

“Sometimes stupidity is contagious as well and sometimes in the crowd there is a competition to see who can be more stupid.

“Abuse cannot be tolerated from anybody towards anybody in the world.

“How can you fight against it? You can single out people who do it.

“You can punish them individually by not letting them in and then maybe single out a group of people who go from game to game and do it.

“The abuse only becomes singled out when it is racism.

“That is not the only abuse which you get in the stadium, but maybe people only get touched by it when it is racism.

“Insults of any way should not be tolerated either.”

Homophobic abuse is against the rules in every Premier League and Football League club.

The Football Association’s decision to amend the ground regulations was approved in 2007 after consultation with the leagues.

In May a campaign was launched to help stamp out homophobia in British football.

It aims to “vindicate the memory of Justin Fashanu, the world’s first openly gay professional footballer.”

A 2006 survey found out that 57% of footballers think that football is homophobic.

The aim of the Justin Campaign is to get the FA to observe Saturday 2nd May 2009 as Justin Fashanu Day.

Hampshire Constabulary said that the scale of the abuse on Sunday meant that arrests could not be made, but a spokeswoman said that the incident will be fully investigated.

“Clubs employ us to keep situations like this to a minimum and with the help of stewards on their staff we can normally warn people they are committing a public order offence,” she said.

“That often solves the problem but on this occasion it was just too much.

“I cannot say whether the chanting was obscene, homophobic or racist, not having been there, but the FA officer we contacted said he understood from his background experience what it was.”

In July two Preston North End fans were banned from the club’s ground for a year and fined by magistrates.

They were convicted of public order offences after chanting homophobic slogans during a game in Blackpool in March and banned from Blackpool FC’s ground.

Nine Blackpool fans were banned from their home ground for shouting homophobic and racist abuse during the same match against Preston.