POLICE have hailed efforts to crack down on homophobic chanting at today's game between Wanderers and Brighton as a success, with just one potential hate-related incident reported.
That incident is still under investigation and police are unable to confirm details at the moment.
Before the game, Bolton Wanderers and the police warned fans not to sing homophobic chants, explaining that anyone who did so would be arrested.
In April last year, the Brighton and Hove Supporters Club and the Gay Football Supporters’ network submitted a dossier detailing homophobic abuse that fans have received.
They reported hearing homophobic songs at both home and away games against Bolton on November 24, 2012 and March 9, 2013.
Police therefore believed that the Brighton fixture would be a suitable game to highlight the campaign and stewards and officers handed out cards to both sets of fans about reporting hate crime.
There was also an advert in the match-day programme, detailing the club’s support for police action against homophobic offences and PC Rob Smith, Bolton’s football co-ordination officer for Greater Manchester Police believes the methods worked.
He said: “It was a very well observed game and everyone behaved themselves, apart from the one potential incident that is still under investigation.
“The police and the club did everything possible to get the message out there that those type of chants would not be tolerated and we are very happy with the result.”
There was not such a good result for the Whites, who lost two nil to the seagulls on the day, but despite the loss, fans gave their backing to the campain.
Chris Samways, aged 17, from Chorley said: “I think it is the right thing to do because that sort of abuse is not right, it could be the only way to stop serious abuse.”
Simon Nightingale, aged 41, from Ainsworth added: “I agree, if they are doing homophobic abuse then lock them up — its a game of football at the end of the day and yes there is banter but when it comes to issues of race or sexuality, there is just no need for it.”
The measures were also welcomed by Brighton fan Angela Corr, aged 51, she said: “We get this kind of abuse wherever we go. My son is gay and I think there is a need for people giving out the abuse to realise it is wrong — perhaps arresting them is the only way of doing that.”