For anybody who thinks homophobia isn’t a problem in football or is just “banter”, then a visit to Elland Road on Saturday would have been more than enough to dispel those sorts of thoughts.
There were times when we had to check Margaret Thatcher wasn’t the PM, Princess Di and Prince Charles weren’t happily married, Berlin didn’t have a bloody great wall running through the middle of it or that Nelson Mandela wasn’t locked up such was it like stepping back into the 1980s.
We love a visit to Elland Road. It’s one of those old school grounds that when full is absolutely rocking, 33,000 belting out Marching on Together before the game was fantastic and makes you wish that The Amex was able to do the same with Sussex by the Sea and, as always seems to be the case when we visit, it was an entertaining game with plenty of attacking intent decided by a last minute goal.
Unfortunately, this time it wasn’t the Albion support celebrating a late late winner – although it so nearly could have been were it not for the brilliance of Paddy Kenny. Did that effect the scenes and abuse that were being dished out after the game? Possibly.
Most level headed people accept the fact that songs such as “We can see you holding hands” is banter. It’s no different to going to Cardiff and Swansea and questioning their relationship with sheep in our eyes. But there is a line when banter isn’t banter and a small minority of Leeds fans didn’t so much cross it as jump 100 feet over it.
Every club has it’s idiots – the scenes outside the White Hart pub prior to the game from some of our supporters doing their best Danny Dyer impressions in a recreation of something out of Football Factory is evidence of that – but it’s probably fair to say that on Saturday Leeds had far more than most.
After the game when queuing for taxis back into the city centre, there were large groups of fans screaming gay abuse with the terms AIDS and faggots being banded about, getting in peoples faces while grabbing their testicles and shouting obscene personal abuse. Around the station it was just as bad with people going out of their way to come up to Brighton fans and dish out some more discrimination – one particular favourite being “f**king gay see you next Tuesday”. And then, just to top things off, the train home saw a United fan decide to punch an Albion fan in the face and start banging on the window in front of two young girls – who weren’t lesbians. All in front of a very very embarrassed Leeds chairman and his son, no less.
So that is all banter is it? Not for us it isn’t and surely not for any right minded person. If gestures about bumming, genuine prejudice towards homosexuals, screaming and threatening people and abuse about AIDS count as banter, then would it be banter for an opposition fan to go to Elland Road and launch a banana at El Hadji Diuof? Perhaps we should rewrite Nazi history and say the Night of Broken Glass was just a bit of a laugh while we are at it?
It’s no wonder that Robbie Rogers felt he had to retire after announcing he was gay (ironically after leaving Leeds) and we all know there is absolutely sod all the FA will do about it. We like football banter as much as the next fans, but Saturday went well beyond what could be considered acceptable.
A shame really as it did tar what was otherwise a fantastic weekend away. The biggest irony of all of course being that all these Brighton fans who were getting abused for being gay had left the city on Pride weekend, while Leeds held it’s own Pride parade on Sunday – we’re sure some of the prejudiced locals would have loved that!
We received a lot of Tweets from Leeds fans over the weekend with some very charming comments – and here are some of the best. Remember, it’s just banter.
— Harry wright (@harrywright1213) August 3, 2013
@wearebrighton they’re here they’re queer they take it up the rear, Brighton fans, Brighton fans
— Mikes (@TheBhoyMikey) August 4, 2013
— charlie (@charliesut) August 4, 2013
Homophobia in football – not a problem is it?
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