Children are singing anti-gay hate chants at football matches, a documentary has discovered.
Channel 4 Dispatches has discovered that homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic abuse is not being reported and catalogued by the authorities.
While often regarded by fans as ‘banter’, the Crown Prosecution Service – backed by the Football Association (FA) – have given out ‘robust’ new guidelines.
At one match between Brighton & Hove Albion away to Wigan, a day after these guidelines were introduced, cameras filmed several examples of homophobic chanting and comments meters away from police officers.
These included: ‘It’s a long way home, you faggots.’
‘Get bumming him boys…Gayboy’
‘Do you take it up the arse?’
Small children could be heard joining in with the chants.
With 15 minutes left of the game, an undercover reporter spoke to the stewards and was told one family had been ejected for homophobic abuse, but the chants continued.
Last season, their fans complained to the Football Association they had received homophobic abuse in more than half their matches.
Despite the new guidelines, 20 homophobic incidents were catalogued across just three matches.
Chris Basiurski, a leading campaigner against homophobia in football, says in the documentary: ‘Could you hear the kids voice singing it, very loud and very clear?
‘Sounded about 6 or 7 years old. I was very worried about that. He’s going to grow up thinking yes it’s okay to laugh and sing about gay people.’
Darren Bailey, FA Director of Governance and Regulation, says: ‘Clearly footage that you’ve shown is of concern and we wouldn’t want to see any of that nature, in any of our grounds.
‘We all have a responsibility – clubs, supporters, players, law enforcement and the FA.
‘We actually write out to all clubs that visit in advance of fixtures against Brighton, home and away to tell them and remind them of their responsibilities.’
‘It may not be working as effectively as we would wish and we have to continue to squeeze out those number of incidents wherever we’re able to do so…We can only do this collectively. So we need the work of the police, we need the work of the crown prosecution service, we need the work of the judiciary.’
Andy Holt, the most senior officer in England responsible for policing football, said: ‘I can clearly see that there’s some inappropriate behaviour going on, some of which may well merit an arrest.’
He added: ‘It could well be that nothing has happened and if that is the case then that is disappointing.’
Basiurski, who is also the chair of the Gay Football Supporters Network, added: ‘This documentary highlights the large amount of homophobic and other abuse still encountered at games across the country.
‘The GFSN is especially concerned about how young people are involved in the abuse and are worried about he impact this is having on LGB&T people in football and in society in general.
‘Action is being taken across the game to address it, but much more work still needs to be done.
‘Football is for everyone and LGBT people should not be put in a situation where they feel scared to attend matches.’
Ditspatches’ new documentary, ‘Hate On The Terraces’, airs on Channel 4 tonight at 8pm.