Fans cry foul as France cracks down on football homophobia

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09/27/2019

From leafleting fans to introducing fines and even jail time, France is cracking down on homophobia in football. But when a referee stopped play over anti-gay chants, fans cried foul. Mehdi Mokhtari’s decision to halt a match between second-league teams AS Nancy and Le Mans last month marked the first time a referee had used the sanction over homophobia as part of an unprecedented clampdown by football authorities. A week later, another match had to be halted, triggering a row that has pitted some French football fans against the sport’s governing body and the national government. “Stopping the matches for every homophobic song or every banner is ineffective,” said French football supporter Cedric Ferreira after angry fans unfurled banners from the stands with anti-gay slurs that explicitly referenced the crackdown. “We saw how fans responded to this the first time: with even more homophobic chants and banners. I think we have to prioritize education from now on to prevent this, and I think we should punish only those who are chanting.”

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