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French soccer match halted after crowd starts homophobic chant


A Ligue 2 soccer match between AS Nancy Lorraine and Le Mans FC was temporarily halted Friday night after some Nancy fans began a homophobic chant, NBC Sports reported.

Referee Mehdi Mokhtari stopped the match and players pleaded with fans to stop. The game was put on hold for about a minute and resumed after fans stopped their problematic singing.

This is the first time a professional soccer match has been stopped in France for this reason, and the decision to temporarily halt play fell in line with one of France’s new rules against discrimination, FIFA employee Alex Stone said on Twitter.

Both Roxana Mărăcineanu, the French sport minister, and Marlène Schiappa, France’s secretary of state for gender equality, commended the referee on Twitter for taking a stand against the offending fans.

Before Mokhtari paused the match, an announcement was made over Stade Marcel Picot’s PA system asking fans to stop to the chant. When it continued, only then did Mokhtari enforce the rule and bring play to a halt.

If you’ve ever engaged with live sports, it doesn’t really come as a surprise that sports fans would be openly homophobic in a setting like this. It’s a huge problem across many sports.

The international study “Out on the Fields” found that in the U.S., 84 percent of people interviewed had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sports. Results are similarly high in other countries, including the U.K., Canada, and New Zealand.

Instances like what happened Friday night create a wholly unwelcoming environment for a large part of the population that is already marginalized. Stopping this behavior is important.

That’s not easy for a lot of people to do, especially knowing that violence can break out at live sporting events. The Independent reported on a study by nfpSynergy, noting that only 25 percent of people surveyed feel comfortable intervening or challenging homophobia.

When the power to stop it is in the hands of referees and players, though, that can have a drastic impact on homophobia in sports. Knowing that their actions could cause a game to suspend, homophobic people will be less likely to be openly homophobic and will hopefully learn a lesson that their words and actions are unacceptable.





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