There’s a chant aimed at Chelsea fans which is once again in the news after three supporters were arrested for singing it over the weekend. We won’t dignify the chant by repeating it here – if you’re reading this you probably know what it is anyway.
And if you’re a supporter who has heard this at games, or even someone who’s joined in, we’d urge you to read on and find out why this chant needs to be stamped out.
We’ve heard or read various excuses as to why the chant is just harmless banter and we don’t buy that at all. If LGBT+ fans are telling you time and again that a chant is homophobic, then why would you ignore that and tell them they’re wrong?
A little background on the chant which seems to have stemmed from a story in The Sun in the 1980s, according to Chelsea historian, Rick Glanvill.
An alleged Chelsea hooligan’s house was raided with The Sun reporting that he shared the home with another man. The newspaper’s reportage in that decade was frequently homophobic and it suggested that both men had been found in bed together.
As Glanvill told Goal in 2022: “Remember, the same newspaper had a front page blaming Liverpool fans for the tragedy of Hillsborough not long afterwards.
“I just find it [the chant] completely ignorant and preposterous, and although I’m never offended by a suggestion I might be homosexual, it’s the intention behind the chant, as a slur and an insult to the gay community, that makes it abusive.”
Pink News reported alternative origins, but origins which still stem from homophobia: “The term has been directed at Chelsea players and fans rather than other football teams because of the London borough of Chelsea’s past status as an LGBTQ+ hotspot.”
Homophobia on the rise?
Football fans in this country are renowned for their wit and originality in creating new songs. Mindlessly repeating a decades old, homophobic chant is not only illegal (see below) but really, really boring as well. Is that the best they can come up with?
Pride in Football say they have seen an “alarming rise” in homophobic chants at men’s football. “The number of incidents, the clearly abusive, hurtful and damaging nature of them, and their vocal intensity within stadiums, should be a cause for concern for the entire footballing community,” they said.
We already know supporters chanting discriminatory songs put their club’s reputation at risk – and they can even cost it home advantage. An FA conviction would result in sanctions against a club while a second offence could even see a partial or total ground closure.
Away from the pitch the authorities have also made crystal clear that this chant is illegal. The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that a supporter was also prosecuted, and pleaded guilty, to a hate crime at last year’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool. Sing the chant and risk a conviction and / or club ban.
In the past decade the FSA has helped support the creation of dozens of LGBT+ fan groups who make a huge contribution to organisation across a range of campaigns, and not just those related to diversity issues. We will not tolerate homophobic chants which make football a less welcoming place for our members.
The FSA welcomes the FA’s investigation into recent incidents and will write to the football authorities, clubs and supporters’ groups from those clubs to join forces and do everything in our combined powers to stop homophobic chanting at games.
We’re sure prominent players and ex-pros speaking out will make a huge difference too.
Supporters reflect society and the vast majority of matchgoers are not homophobic but much like society there will be outright homophobes in any large crowd – as well as other people who might “go with the flow”. We hope they read this and understand why the chant has to stop.
The FSA will continue to challenge homophobia, and any other form of discrimination, and strive to ensure that football stadiums are free from illegal bigotry.
If you are involved with a supporters’ organisation and hear this at your club, please contact the FSA and we will work with your group to combat the chant and the attitudes behind it.
Any such chants should be flagged via Kick It Out’s Report It page too.
We can give you pointers on strategy and drafting a statement, which we will help you send to the country’s leading sports journalists, as well as FSA followers and members.
In addition we can put you in touch with any existing LGBT+ fan groups at your club and others so that all good supporters’ groups can speak with unity on this issue.