Five year football ban for Leeds United fan over homophobic abuse

Leeds United fans

A Leeds United fan has been handed a five year football ban for making homophobic comments and gestures at a match. 

Adam Slater, from Bramley, was arrested on 11 March for directing hateful abuse towards Brighton & Hove Albion fans during a Leeds United home game at Elland Road.  

West Yorkshire Police police said the 23-year-old was caught on film making the homophobic comments and hand gestures by “evidence gathers” from the force, who were positioned within the South Stand on match day. 

Magistrates approved a five-year banning order against Slater on Wednesday (20 September). This follows him being charged with a public order offence after he appeared at Leeds Magistrates Court in May, where he pleaded guilty and received a fine. 

Alongside the court ruling, Slater has also been banned from Elland Road by Leeds United in a separate ruling. 

Chief inspector Pete Hall, who led the policing operation at the match, said in a statement: “The words and gestures used by Slater were likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress to anyone within hearing distance of him, and anyone who behaves in this way should be prepared to face the consequences.

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“Homophobic abuse, and any other form of prejudice, has absolutely no place in football and we know all decent fans of the game, regardless of club affiliations, support that view.

“We will continue to work closely with Leeds United and visiting clubs to investigate any offences and take robust action wherever possible, including seeking football banning orders, and we hope this latest action will serve as a stark reminder to others.”

Crackdown on homophobia in football

The ban of Slater comes amid increasing pressure by the FA on clubs to stamp out homophobic abuse and chants among their fans. 

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

At the time, CPS director of public prosecutions Max Hill described the chant as a “disease” which has “no place within society, let alone sport”.

“We stand firmly against all forms of discrimination and 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 previously said. 

This emphasis on driving bigotry out of football has resulted in a number of supporters from various clubs arrested, charged and handed bans for making homophobic comments and gestures during the last few months.

In July, Wolverhampton Wanderers were handed a first-of-its-kind £100,000 fine for failing to prevent fans singing the chant during a match against Chelsea in April.

The bout between Wolves and the Blues saw three Wolves fans were arrested for their conduct, one of which was given a three-year stadium ban

Action against clubs for fans behaviour can, however, only be brought forth if it occurs following the January ruling by the FA. For example, investigations into homophobic chanting by fans of Manchester United, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest could not proceed because the incidents happened prior to the FA updating its guidance on 11 January.