Bookmaker Paddy Power issues grovelling apology after sharing ‘shameful’ video of football fan using homophobic slur

LGBT gay football David Haigh

One of the biggest bookmakers in the UK and Ireland, Paddy Power, issued a grovelling apology Thursday morning (August 6) after a fan used a homophobic slur in one of its social media videos.

Paddy Power said sorry after it shared a video which included a fan saying “salty rent boy”, prompting fierce backlash from the queer football community.

Each week, the Dublin-based bookie rounds up online comments regarding a particular game as part of its “Fan Denial” series. On Monday (August 5), it posted a video focused on last Saturday’s (August 1) FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which has been deleted following outcry.

Some of the UK’s leading football inclusivity drivers – Chelsea Pride, Gay Gooners, Proud Baggies and Kick It Out – decried the video along with football media outlets.

“An advert like this is designed to provoke and does nothing to further inclusion in football,” said Kick It Out chairperson Sanjay Bhandari in a statement on Twitter.

“All it will do is encourage people to keep using this hideous language, not just on social media but in matches too.”

Similar scorn was expressed by the Gay Gooners, a group of LGBT+ Arsenal fans. The organisation stressed in an email to Peter Jackson, CEO of Paddy Power’s parent company Flutter Entertainment, that “discriminatory language and behaviour” should be called out whenever possible by industry leaders.

“We know homophobic language fuels the toxic atmosphere that often makes loyal LGBTQ+ fans feel unwelcome at football,” a screenshot of the email read.

“By including that particular tweet, Paddy Power undermines its own work in challenging homophobia within sport as well as that of groups such as ourselves and our colleagues through Pride in Football.”

Chelsea Pride similarly amplified how the video “perpetuates the idea that this kind of ‘banter’ is acceptable in football”, making clear: “It is not.”

In response to the seething criticism, Paddy Power said: “We are very sorry for any offence caused before [the video] was removed.

“We are reviewing our approval processes on content produced by third parties to ensure content on our platform is in line with our values as a brand.

“We are very proud of the work we have done around LGBTQ+ issues, and intend to continue being allies to the community.”