French football match halted due to homophobic chants and banners

This comes less than a week after a match in Brazil was stopped by the referee due to homophobic chants.

The stands of a French football match with fans unfurling a homophobic banner

In the second such incident in less than a week, a referee called a halt to a French football match due to the homophobic behaviour of fans in the stands.

The incident occurred at a Ligue 1 game between Nice and Olympique Marseille on Wednesday when two separate banners containing homophobic language were unfurled in the stands. There were also reports of homophobic chants and remarks ringing out amongst some of the supporters.

At first, an announcement was relayed over the PA system system entreating, “We ask you to stop these insulting remarks, otherwise the match will be interrupted.” The chants must have continued as then the referee Clement Turpin made the decision to call a halt to the match.

Some of the Nice team’s players approached the stands, asking the homophobic supporters to end their abuse but their requests fell on deaf ears. Both teams eventually returned to their dressing rooms.

After a five minute delay to the match, when fans finally decided to remove the banners and the chants died down, officials allowed the match to recommence. In France, referees have been instructed to call a halt to all matches if homophobic chanting takes place or offensive signs and banners are displayed.

While many welcome this new decision, one of the players, Wylan Cyprien from the Nice team, disagreed with a halt being called to the match in question. Cyprien told a news station, “We can’t stop a game every time that stupid people act like that. I am against every discrimination, homophobia or racism. But we can’t stop games for that. It’s ridiculous.”

The incident comes only days after a match between two Brazillian league teams – Sao Paulo and Vasco – was stopped by referee Anderson Daronco due to Vasco fans shouting homophobic chants.

Earlier this month in two separate instances in French football, a Ligue 2 match between teams Nancy and Le Mans was halted until homophobic behaviour ceased, while fans at a match between Monaco and Nimes were warned to stop or else face the suspension of the game.

The issue of tackling homophobia in football has gained traction in recent years with the Rainbow Laces initiative become more prevalent. The sheer amount of incidents such as the one reported show just why these kind of initiatives are necessary.

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