Southampton fans banned from stadium over ‘town full of gays’ chant

Graffiti outside Southampton's stadium.

Two Southampton FC fans have been banned from the club’s home stadium over homophobic chanting.

During a Boxing Day match between Southampton and Brighton, fans were reported as chanting “up the arse” and “town full of gays”, resulting in a confrontation with an LGBTQ+ supporter.

Southampton confirmed, via Hampshire Live, on Monday (9 January), that it has banned two supporters and is investigating a third over the incident.

The club said it realised “bans alone will not tackle this issue” and would “work to educate and raise awareness among those individuals caught using any discriminatory terms”.

It added that it “stands very firmly against all forms of discrimination” and “does not tolerate abuse online either”.

“We are working tirelessly to ensure St Mary’s Stadium is a safe and welcoming environment for all, which truly embraces diversity and challenges hateful conduct on and off the pitch,” the team said.

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Homophobia in football has been under the spotlight since the Qatar World Cup, with officials being urged to take meaningful action to encourage LGBTQ+ inclusion.

After the Boxing Day match, a fan named Marc James opened up on Twitter about enduring the homophobic chants.

He said that at first he put up with them, but “couldn’t allow it” when nearby supporters shouted “town full of poofters”.

“Disappointed to still have this in 2022 in football,” he said. “Outed myself to the stand, and wanted to cry.”

At the time, James told Southern Daily Echo the homophobic chanting stopped after he confronted those responsible.

“You could see that they knew what they were doing was wrong, one of them couldn’t even look at me.”

Before it stopped, he said, one person told him it was what he should “expect”, arguing that “it’s just banter”.

James said no one gave him “any grief” for speaking out, “but also no one stood up for me”.

Southampton’s LGBTQ+ supporters network Rainbow Saints said it stood in solidarity with James.

“It takes a huge amount of guts to stand up in front of a large crowd and confront aggressive homophobia,” the group said online.

Southampton isn’t the only team forced to tackle homophobic fan chants.

Manchester United fans were singing the “Chelsea rent boy” chant, which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said could constitute a homophobic hate crime, towards Everton’s Frank Lampard during the second half of the FA Cup third-round clash at Old Trafford on Friday (6 January).

In response, Manchester United strongly denounced the chanting and vowed to tackle homophobia and other forms of discrimination.

A similar response was given when the club’s supporters also used the chant in October.

The FA said it would be working with the CPS and police to get to the bottom of the most recent incident.

“We are striving to ensure our game is a safe environment for all, which truly embraces diversity and challenges hateful conduct both on and off the pitch,” the FA said.