Supporters condemn homophobic chants

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Fans’ groups have joined forces to condemn a video showing Arsenal “tribute” band The Away Boyz singing homophobic songs aimed at ex-Gunner Ashley Cole, ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final.

Supporters from the Gay Gooners, Spurs LGBT, Canal Street Blues (Manchester City), and Proud Canaries (Norwich City) issued a joint statement branding the incident a “hate crime”.

“We deplore the public and organised homophobic chanting which was heard before the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday. This is unacceptable in 2015, could be construed as inciting hatred

“The Gay Gooners, Proud Lilywhites, Canal Street Blues and Proud Canaries - working together under the banner of Pride in Football - ask all football governing bodies and the wider community to demand that this incident be fully investigated and charges brought against the organisers.

“We call upon the FA, Football Clubs, Premier League, Football League and the Police to fully investigate and bring charges under the Public Order Act.

“We acknowledge the ground breaking work in combatting homophobia at Arsenal FC and expect the Board to take action against those fans in breach of the club's own standards."

Their stance was backed by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation.

Roisin Wood, Director of Kick It Out, said: “We strongly condemn the homophobic chanting led on stage by a band of Arsenal FC supporters, with a group of the club’s fans joining in, prior to their FA Cup semi-final fixture against Reading FC.

“We have informed the Police and Arsenal FC of the footage which has emerged of the incident, and will continue to liaise with both parties on this matter. We expect to see a full investigation undertaken by the Police and for appropriate action to be taken.

“Through our ‘Fans for Diversity’ campaign, run in partnership with the Football Supporters’ Federation, we have organised and supported a number of initiatives focusing on tackling LGBT discrimination and creating a more inclusive environment for LGBT fans.

“This incident highlights the extent of the battle and the challenges faced in addressing LGBT discrimination across football, and it is vital that collective responsibility is taken throughout the game to confront these issues when they arise.”

The Fans for Diversity campaign, which is run in partnership by the Football Supporters’ Federation and Kick It Out, has supported a number of initiatives focused on tackling LGBT discrimination to create a more inclusive environment for LGBT fans.

Anwar Uddin, Diversity and Campaigns manager at the FSF, said: “This incident highlights the need for our continued work raising awareness on all forms of discrimination and working with supporters across the country to improve the matchday experience for all to enjoy.”