Authorities investigating after stewards asked female fans to 'feel their bras' during security checks
Stevenage are conducting an internal investigation after female supporters of Grimsby Town were asked to expose their bras in thr queue and asked to have their underwiring felt in order to access Saturday's League Two fixture between the clubs.
An open letter sent by the Grimsby Town supporters trust to Stevenage details a long list of "serious failings" from stewards working at the Lamex Stadium, failings which resulted in what was described as the worst treatment Grimsby fans have experienced "in decades."
"Several female supporters were asked to lift their tops up to show their bras to female stewards upon entry to The Lamex Stadium. This decision – in the queue in front of other supporters, including men and male stewards – is a gross invasion of privacy," the letter claims.
"Female supporters have also since contacted us to state they were asked by female stewards if they could feel their bras if they confirmed that they were underwired.
The supporters were made to feel uncomfortable and when they replied they would ‘rather not’ they were ‘reluctantly’ let in to the ground.
"This act would effectively constitute a sexual assault and these types of searches are unlawful. If deemed necessary, although we cannot see how feeling an underwire in a bra could be deemed so unless acting on previous intelligence, then any fans in question should have been taken to a private area of the ground to be searched by a female steward rather than being searched in full view of male stewards, fans and Police.
"We are not aware at this stage that any previous intelligence contributed to these types of searches being implemented against female supporters."
The letter also claims that full body searches were carried out on children as young as five years old. Stewards were described as "antagonistic" while the away end also lacked the basic hygiene facilities required, including soap, hand-drying apparatus or sanitisers.
Stevenage responded to the letter by saying they were aware of its existence and would investigate the matter before making any further comment.
But The Independent understands that the EFL are already launching their own investigation into the matter.
The Football Supporters' Federation told The Independent:
"The FSF are deeply concerned to hear the experiences of some Grimsby Town supporters on Saturday. It is clear that there is a safeguarding issue and working with the Mariners Trust we will do all we can to seek a full and transparent explanation."
Stevenage ran out 3-1 victors to move up to eighth.
(© Independent News Service)
Independent News Service