Discrimination in the spotlight after weekend of shame as campaigners call on football to launch joint assault on racism and homophobia

Tom Morgan
The Telegraph
Brighton confirmed two men were arrested on suspicion of using homophobic gestures during Sunday's game against Wolves - Getty Images Europe
Brighton confirmed two men were arrested on suspicion of using homophobic gestures during Sunday's game against Wolves - Getty Images Europe

Campaigners called on football to launch a joint assault on racism and homophobia after four investigations were launched into allegations of discrimination at Premier League matches.

In one, a 13-year-old Burnley supporter was removed by Tottenham Hotspur stewards for what was said to be a racist gesture at Spurs striker Son Heung-min.

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Brighton confirmed that two men had been ejected from the away section at the Amex Stadium and arrested on suspicion of using homophobic gestures during Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Wolves. Everton launched an investigation into a claim of homophobic chanting aimed at Chelsea fans on Saturday.

Manchester City continue to work with police after a video circulated appearing to show a home supporter aiming monkey chants at Manchester United’s Fred.

Anthony Burke, a 41-year-old Army veteran from Manchester, was bailed pending further investigations, and defended himself against accusations of racism on social media, saying he was “putting my hands in my pants”.

Kick It Out said the catalogue of complaints over the weekend proved football needed to work together. “We welcome the strong and swift responses from all the clubs affected by discrimination this weekend – and applaud those who reported abuse,” the campaign group said. “It is disappointing abuse continues, but only further highlights the need for everyone in football to work together to combat discrimination. Those responsible should face appropriate sanctions and, where possible, education.”

The incidents of homophobia came to light on the weekend of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, with Premier League clubs showing their support for LGBT inclusion. Jehmeil Lemonius, Stonewall’s sport campaigns manager, said: “The homophobic chanting during this weekend’s matches are upsetting reminders that attitudes still need to change in order to make sport more inclusive.”

“Tackling offensive cheers and behaviour is a crucial part of helping LGBT people feel welcome in sport, so it’s great that Everton and Brighton have stepped up to take action,” Lemonius said.

In a statement, Burnley reiterated their zero-tolerance policy on discrimination, and added: “The minor, who was accompanied by a guardian, is now under investigation by the Metropolitan Police, with help from Lancashire Police and the two clubs.

“In the meantime, Burnley FC will be contacting the teenager and his family, with a view to an enforced educational programme, run in conjunction with Kick It Out and Burnley FC in the Community.”

Brighton and Wolves issued strong statements after two men, aged 46 and 48 and both from Bridgnorth in Shropshire, were arrested and later released under investigation pending further inquiries following reports of homophobic gestures.

Paul Barber, the Brighton chief executive, said: “It’s sad and depressing that once again we find ourselves having to address another situation of discriminatory abuse. Prior to kick-off, we had a huge show of support for the Rainbow Laces campaign backed by the vast majority of people inside the stadium, and yet before the game is over, we are forced to deal with these two individuals, who think it’s OK to behave in this way.

“Working with Sussex Police, I’m pleased to report that once again our staff were able to take swift action, which hopefully will increase the chances of a conviction. We won’t stand for it at the Amex.”

In the Sky Bet Championship, Charlton striker Lyle Taylor reported an individual to Instagram after receiving racist abuse, but the social networking service suggested the content of the messages did not go against its Community Guidelines. Instagram was contacted for comment.

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