Bristol Rovers football team condemns homophobic chanting by their fans

Bristol Rover players (right) on the pitch with Brighton & Hove Albion at Memorial Stadium, Bristol (Getty Images/Alex Davidson)

A UK football team have expressed their “strong disproval” after some of their own fans sang homophobic chants at a game earlier this week.

Bristol Rovers fans hurled homophobic insults and chants at Brighton & Hove Albion fans on 27 August.

The club condemned the chanting today, 30 August, in a statement.

“Bristol Rovers have become aware of homophobic chanting targeted at the away end,” a club statement said.

“As a club, we are strongly against these actions and are taking appropriate steps to tackle this issue so it does not happen again.”

Furthermore, the club announced that security staff and stewards will look to identify supporters or groups “acting inappropriately whilst within the stadium”.

Once identified, supporters will be escorted out of the stadium and “appropriate bans” from future games enforced.

The club statement concluded: “We’d like to thank the vast majority of supporters who have, and continue to, represent the club in the manner we’d all expect.”

In addition, the League One side lost 2-1 to the Premier League team in the Carabao Cup, held at Memorial Stadium, Bristol.

Fan: “It shows we still have more to do as a club and as a society.”

The homophobic chants have received widespread condemnation from football organisations and fans alike.

On a Bristol Rovers chat log, fans slammed the homophobia from their fellow supporters. “Embarrassing, especially as Bristol itself has a large LGBT+ community,” said one fan.

He added: “This kind of thing should be stamped out of football.”

Another wrote: “It shows we still have more to do as a club and as a society.

“Maybe we should see it as an opportunity for the club to do even more to promote inclusion.”

A spokesman for anti-discrimination group Kick It Out said it had contacted the Football Association – the governing body of English football – about the homophobic chants.

He said: “Kick It Out received reports of homophobic abuse aimed at Brighton fans during their match against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday.

“Homophobic abuse is discriminatory and illegal. Those caught should face strong punishment and, where possible, receive education to learn from this.

“We are pleased to see Bristol Rovers taking proactive steps to ensure a repeat of this is avoided.”

The incident comes as reports of homophobic abuse around football matches continues to sharply ride, according to new data.

There were 111 reports of homophobic abuse incidents around football matches in the 2017/18 season. A 9 percent increase from the previous report.

Homophobia in UK football. 

Football and the LGBT+ community have a complicated and, at times, toxic relationship.

To some football fans, Justin Fashanu is remembered as the young centre-forward who rose the ranks in the 90s.

While for others, his coming out in 1990 in the UK showed the potential of truly inclusive and diverse football.

Yet, after he died by suicide, he has remained the last professional male football player to be open about their sexuality while still playing; 29 years ago.

There are no openly gay male footballers in the top tiers of the sport in the UK, and persistent reports suggest that major stars in the closet feel terrified to come out.

Conversely, many high-profile England women’s players have come out as queer, such as Lily Parr or Kelly Smith.

Moreover, many retired male players have come out. Former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers and former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger have both come out as gay in recent years.