Football authorities unite to stamp out vile ‘tragedy chanting’ by fans

Football authorities in England have united to introduce new measures to tackle unacceptable conduct on the pitch, side-lines and in the stands, including cracking down on vile ‘tragedy chanting’ by fans. 

The measures – supported by the FA, Premier League, EFL, Barclays Women’s Super League, Barclays Women’s Championship, National League System (Steps 1-4) and referees’ governing body PGMOL – have seen a new Participant Charter collectively launched ahead of the new football season, which also expands on the work of the ‘Love Football. Protect the Game’ campaign. 

The new policies will come into force from the start of the 2023/24 season and aim to improve the behaviour of players, managers and coaches across the professional, National League system and grassroots game. 

The charter, which was developed alongside the League Managers Association (LMA) and Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), will see more robust measures which players, managers, coaches, support staff and club officials must adhere to on a matchday.

Alongside this, tough steps are being brought in to stamp out the presence of football tragedy abuse in the stands – work which comes amid efforts to halt homophobic chanting at matches. 

Football tragedy abuse is defined as offensive chanting, gestures or behaviour which is based on football-related tragedies, such as the Munich air disaster of 1958 involving the Manchester United squad and the Hillsborough disaster at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. 

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Such obscene chanting and behaviour is extremely distressing for the victims’ families, survivors and club-supporters who may also feel impacted by the tragedy. 

The new policies will see people who are found to have engaged in tragedy chanting face stadium bans and potential criminal prosecution for their actions. 

Alongside the sanctions, football authorities will also be engaging a range of educational resources to educate both adults and children about the hurt tragedy chanting causes and why it is inappropriate.  

The move comes amid increasing pressure on clubs from football’s authorities to see an end to homophobic chanting by fans. 

Back in January, the Football Association announced football clubs will face fines if fans use the homophobic ‘Chelsea rent boy’ chant at games, a song which has been defined as a hate crime by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). 

Following the announcement, in July, the FA handed Wolverhampton Wanderers a first-of-its-kind £100,000 fine for failing to prevent their supporters singing the chant during a match against Chelsea in April.

Wolves were also handed an action plan to follow, which aims to reduce the number of repeat incidents. 

Action against clubs, however, can only happen if chants were observed after the January ruling. In July, the FA said it was unable to proceed with investigations into homophobic chanting by fans of Manchester United, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest because the incidents happened prior to the updating of its guidance on January 11.