St Albans City FC working with police as new survey reveals 45 per cent of people have heard homophobic chants at a match

Representatives from the clubs, the FA and the police at Watford Football Club. Picture: Herts Poli

Representatives from the clubs, the FA and the police at Watford Football Club. Picture: Herts Police. - Credit: Archant

St Albans City is among football teams from across West Herts who are working with police to tackle match day homophobia.

Herts police and the county’s branch of the FA are setting up third-party reporting centres at all the clubs in the county for victims of hate crime to report offences immediately.

St Albans City Football Club’s coaching development manager Chris Samways said: “Homophobia is a key issue in society that football can contribute positively towards with the huge amount of community engagement that the sport offers from first team match days, community programmes and youth teams.

“St Albans City Youth FC have over 90 teams from boys, girls and disability groups, we offer considerable value to St Albans community, ensuring people have the opportunity, representation and feel comfortable in football is important to us as a club.

“The results of the survey show there is still much work to be done to raise the game around inclusivity, St Albans City FC and its youth section have a role to play in changing this.

“We want everyone to enjoy football without worrying, whether as a fan, player, coach or the many other roles that support club. We will continue to work in partnership with Hertfordshire Constabulary, the Herts FA and other clubs in Hertfordshire to make this possible.”

The survey, of 400 football fans carried out by the police and FA, revealed ten per cent felt having a gay player would make other team members feel uncomfortable and ten per cent believed gay professional footballers should keep their sexuality to themselves.

Most Read

While 58 per cent of respondents would feel comfortable if their club signed a transgender player, 14 per cent would feel uncomfortable.

However, 86 per cent of respondents agreed they would feel very comfortable if their club signed a gay player and 81 per cent disagreed homophobic chanting at a match is acceptable

Ch Supt Matthew Nicholls said: “While our survey has revealed some positive attitudes to having gay, lesbian and transgender players in the game - and to challenging homophobia in football - the results also demonstrate this prejudice still exists.

“Additionally not only are there still currently no openly gay male players in English football, even the Football Supporters Federation has recently warned LGBT+ supporters to not openly display their sexuality if they are attending the World Cup.

“Therefore clearly the police and the country’s footballing community need to do more to change this.

“We are keen to reach a stage where homophobia in football is a thing of the past and that fans and players from the LGBT+ community can attend and play matches as their true selves.

“To achieve this we will continue to work with the Herts FA to get the message across that homophobia in football is unacceptable and considered a hate crime which should either be reported to police, the FA, your local club, or via the ‘Kick it Out’app.”

Discriminatory behaviour can also be reported via an online form on the Kick it Out website