Saturday 24 February 2018

Leicester City eject number of home fans for homophobic abuse during Brighton match

General view of players walking out on to the pitch before the match at the King Power on Saturday
General view of players walking out on to the pitch before the match at the King Power on Saturday

Evan Bartlett

Two Leicester City fans have been arrested on suspicion of "homophobic related offences" following the club's match against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

The club confirmed a number of home fans were ejected from the stadium by stewards and Leicestershire police say they are reviewing evidence to see if others were involved.

According to eyewitnesses, the abuse began in the closing stages of the game the hosts won 2-0.

“In the last 20 or so minutes the chanting started towards the Brighton fans and then after that it got a bit more nasty with a few isolated shouts, which were a bit more malicious,” Leicester fan Chris Whiting told the BBC.

“It made me very shaken, I felt a bit unsafe and very unwelcome in a place I've been going to since I was eight years old.”

A Brighton fan, who did not wish to be named, told the Leicester Mercury the abuse was “like something out of the 1970s”.

“We’ve encountered abuse over the years, but it’s all but gone from the game,” the away fan said.

“However, a group of around 20 to 30 Leicester City fans close to Brighton supporters suddenly started chanting vicious homophobic abuse and making homophobic gestures.

“It was like something out of the 1970s, and this sort of bigoted, small minded behaviour needs to be stopped and those involved ejected from the ground.”

Leicester said they were “disappointed” at the actions of the “responsible minority” but were confident their staff reacted “swiftly and appropriately”.

"We are committed to creating a passionate, inclusive, welcoming environment at King Power Stadium, in which everyone is free to enjoy the matchday experience," a club spokesperson said.

"As part of our ongoing efforts to educate our staff, senior King Power Stadium stewards undertook specialist training during the summer in effectively identifying offensive behaviour, including contributions from Leicester's LGBT Centre on recognising homophobic abuse.

"While disappointed that such abuse took place during Saturday's match, we are satisfied that our stewards reacted swiftly and appropriately, which led to the responsible minority being ejected from the stadium and reported to the police."

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