FA investigating after footballer allegedly targeted with homophobic abuse by rival player on the pitch

Forest Green Rovers rainbow flag

The Football Association (FA) is investigating alleged homophobic abuse against a Forest Green Rovers player by a member of rival team Tranmere Rovers.

The incident allegedly took place at a match played behind closed doors on Saturday (1 May) at The New Lawn stadium in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, according to the BBC

Neither player has been named, but Tranmere Rovers insisted their player “strongly denied” making a homophobic comment.

The team said in a statement: “Tranmere Rovers Football Club are aware of the allegation made against one of our players by an opposition player during last weekend’s match at Forest Green Rovers.

“The allegation is strongly denied by the player in question.

“Whilst the Club has a zero-tolerance policy to any form of homophobic abuse, given the strong denial of the incident we will await the outcome of any FA investigation before commenting further.”

Forest Green Rovers said in their own statement: “Forest Green Rovers are disappointed to hear of alleged homophobic abuse aimed at one of our players during Saturday’s game with Tranmere Rovers.

“With football clubs and organisations switching off social media accounts in a collective protest against online abuse by fans, it was especially disappointing to have this occur on the pitch.

“We need better from players if we are to expect better from fans. To ensure there is no place in football for abuse of any kind – that has to start on the pitch

“The club will fully support the FA investigation into this matter.”

Homophobia has long been a major issue in football, and to date there has been just one top-tier UK male footballer to come out as LGBT+ while currently playing.

Justin Fashanu became the first professional footballer to come out publicly in 1990, but tragically, less than eight years later, he took his own life.

At the end of last year, FA boss Greg Clarke resigned after referring to “coloured footballers” and saying being gay is a “life choice” at a parliamentary hearing.