Homophobic chants bring football game to a stop

Feet and football

A French football match was brought to a screeching halt on Friday over homophobic songs and chants.

The Ligue 2 game between Nancy and Le Mans was temporarily halted by referee Mehdi Mokhtari in the first half after repeated chanting from home supporters at Stade Mercel Picot.

Fans had been warned to stop chanting over the stadium’s loudspeakers and Mokhtari dramatically stopped play when the songs continued.

The move was part of new regulations aimed at tackling discrimination in French football.

The chants were aimed at the French Football League and local rivals FC Metz, according to RMC Sport.

The game continued after Nancy players pleaded with fans to calm down and stop the chants.

France’s secretary of state for gender equality and anti-discrimination, Marlene Schiappa, applauded Mokhtari for the move.

In a tweet she said: “Congratulations to referee Mehdi Mokhtari for having bravely interrupted the match in the face of homophobic songs sun at Nancy-Le Mans, as allowed by the rules.

“Football is an exciting sport. It must remain so for all.”

Minister of sport Roxana Maracineanu also congratulated Mokhtari for the decision, saying in a tweet: “I address my congratulations at referee Mehdi Mokhtari and the delegation of Alain Marseille who took their responsibilities and decided to interrupt the football match between Nancy and Le Mans for homophobic insults.

“This is the first and a last, I hope.”

Nancy would go on to win the game 2-1 with the winning goal scored from the penalty spot five minutes into extra time.

Homophobic football fans face heavy fines and possible prison sentences.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel announced the new plans to target homophobic abuse in France football back in May.

Under the new rules, any acts qualified as homophobic can be punished with a €22,500 (£19,500) fine and up to six months in prison.