UPDATED: Bolton Wanderers fans warned not to sing homophobic chants at Brighton game
BOLTON Wanderers fans are being warned not to sing homophobic chants at the Brighton game tomorrow.
The club and the police say any such chants "will not be tolerated".
They will be running a campaign at the match, with stewards and officers handing cards to both sets of fans about reporting hate crime.
There will also be an advert in the match-day programmes outlining the club’s support for police action against homophobic offences.
Stewards have been asked to inform officers if they hear any derogatory comments.
PC Rob Smith, Bolton's football co-ordination officer for Greater Manchester Police, said: “The message to anyone tempted to get involved in homophobic chants, or any other kind of abuse, is simple – don’t do it, or you will be arrested.
"Some people regard this sort of thing as just a bit of banter, but it isn’t – it can cause great offence to those it’s directed at, and we will take positive action against offenders.”
Bolton Wanderers club chaplain Phil Mason said: “I don’t just want to focus on this one game - people need to be aware of hate crime generally.
“Homophobic chanting has no place in football — it’s not helpful or supportive.
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"The idea of this campaign is to ensure that people who come to football will have a positive experience regardless of their age, sex, or race.
“It’s absolutely vital to educate young people on this issue, because often young people’s views can be formed at a very early age.
"We want to help them to think for themselves and help them formulate how they perceive people.
“I think there’s always room for improvement and the only way to improve is to keep raising awareness of hate crime and emphasize that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
"There is no room for it in a modern society.”
In April last year, the Brighton and Hove Supporters Club (BHASC) and the Gay Football Supporters' Network (GFSN) submitted a dossier detailing homophobic abuse that fans have received at stadiums across the UK.
They reported hearing homophopic songs at both home and away games against Bolton on November 24, 2012, and March 9, 2013.
The groups contacted Bolton Wanderers for a response and received a reply on the first occasion but not on the second.
To report hate crime, call police on 101, report it online at report-it.org.uk.
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