U.K. Rugby Club Fined for Homophobic Slurs
By Noah Michelson
Photo: Getty Images
Sports fans’ chants have long been a vehicle for humor, camaraderie, racism and bigotry. In Europe and the U.K. in particular, tens of thousands of otherwise ordinary Joes singing personal and very cleverly written slurs very loudly and in unison at chosen players has been a headache for rugby and football clubs, police and TV stations. The latter has even created sound recordings manipulated to downplay crowd noise and render the offensive and often defamatory words unintelligible.
Now one of the U.K.’s top rugby clubs has been fined $60,000 for the homophobic language aimed at an opposition player, Gareth Thomas. Thomas is one of the sport’s stars, and when he came out in 2009, fans were shocked. He has since said that the support from players and friends in what is a bastion of masculinity, has been amazing. But opposition fans are not so open-minded, and when Thomas’s club -- Crusaders -- played Castleford, the coordinated abuse was atrocious.
The sport’s governing body, the Rugby Football League (RFL), has said it will appeal the legal decision, and stresses its much-lauded alliance with civil rights group Stonewall, as evidence that it takes hate crimes seriously.
In the past, David Beckham has been on the receiving end from everything from his modeling career to his sexual activities with Posh, and very technical suggestions as to his gay tendencies. The harder the clubs try to stamp the hateful chanting out, the louder some fans shout.
Previously > Straight Men Acting Gay