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Homophobia to get kicked out of football

PUBLISHED: 10:07 23 August 2007 | UPDATED: 11:25 01 July 2010

THE football community has embarked on a proactive month in shaking off homophobic stigma. Weeks after the FA banned anti-gay chanting in the stands this season, Ofcom rapped two talkSPORT radio presenters for alleged homophobic comments, on Monday. M

THE football community has embarked on a proactive month in shaking off homophobic stigma.

Weeks after the FA banned anti-gay chanting in the stands this season, Ofcom rapped two talkSPORT radio presenters for alleged homophobic comments, on Monday.

Mayor of London candidate and journalist Gary Bushell, from Sidcup, was slammed for his viewpoints on the issue on his Football First slot, where he referred to gay rights activist Peter Tatchell's 'gospel of perversion'.

TalkSPORT said Mr Bushell's comments on June 3 were wrong but "off the cuff" and his colleague Mike Mendoza was suspended for a week under similar circumstances.

Mr Bushell insisted his comments referred to Peter Tatchell discussing lowering the age of consent to under 16.

He added: "I wonder what the reaction would have been on air I had called for the age of consent for heterosexual sex to be lowered?

"I don't think it would have been Ofcom knocking on my door. More likely it would have been the Metropolitan Police."

Meanwhile the FA rules introduced on August 11 mean that homophobic abuse, chanting and harassment at a match can lead to ejection from the grounds or arrest.

A Millwall fan who works at the Star and Garter pub in Bromley said the clampdown will be tough to impose, but recognised the benefits.

"I don't go up to the Den as much as I'd like," he said. "But whenever I do go to the Den there's no way they could tell I was gay.

"Millwall were one of the first teams to try and kick racism out of football and it has worked really well, so to kick hate crime out of football would be amazing."

A Millwall FC spokesman said it was good the issue had been highlighted, adding: "Millwall will be as supportive of it as every other club."

These comments were echoed by Charlton Athletic manager, Alan Pardew, who said he would be happy to deal with homophobia just as the club dealt with racism.

He added: "I haven't experienced too much of it to be honest, but it's something you have to keep your eye on. There are always forms of bigotry in society and that surface in football occasionally."

But Jackie Foley, an Oxford fan working for gay support charity The Metro Centre, in Greenwich High Road, said the issue was tough because there are no openly gay players.

He added: "Lot's of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people go to football. It doesn't impede on your sexuality. In the same way that a lot Black and Asian people have come into football it would be the next step for more LGBT people to become more involved in the game."

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

joe.shackley@archant.co.uk

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