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Los Angeles Football Club Takes Action Against Homophobic Stadium Chants

Los Angeles Football Club Takes Action Against Homophobic Stadium Chants

LAFC Takes Action Against Homophobic Stadium Chants

By partnering with fans and the community, the team hopes to stop the slur-filled chants before they start.

The Los Angeles Football Club has partnered with fans and the community to take a preemptive stand against homophobic chants sometimes hurled by fans at opposing players during professional soccer games.

The club announced prior to their season opener on Saturday that it will work together with Pride Republic, the 3252 Independent Supporters Union, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center Team to foster an inclusive and supportive environment for fans attending games.

"The vision and mission for LAFC has always been to create a Club where every member of our community feels welcome," Larry Freedman, the co-president and CBO of LAFC, said in a statement. "Since the Club's inception, we worked to create an inclusive environment, and will continue to take the steps necessary to eliminate the chant from our stadium."

"The Los Angeles LGBT Center applauds LAFC's efforts to make all of its home games a more welcoming experience for all spectators," Joey Espinoza-Hernandez, the center's director of policy and community building, said in a statement, adding the group was "heartened to know that positive change is in store this season."

The team promised a collaborative effort with the various groups. LAFC will provide increased security trained to identify and deal with unruly fans. Any fan found to participate in the chanting will be removed from the game and permanently banned from the season, and season members will lose their membership as well. The 3252 has updated its policies for participating fan groups, asking for fans to help security identify those who violate the rules.

Soccer has been plagued in recent years by homophobic chants from fans directed at players. In November, it was announced Mexico would play its next two World Cup qualifying home games in front of empty stadiums after fans were banned because of their repeated use of the slur. Last December, C.A. Morelia in Mexico was forced to forfeit a game after their fans repeatedly chanted the slur and later battled police in the stands and on the field.

In June, play at the CONCACAF final between the United States and Mexico at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado was stopped for three minutes in accordance with league anti-discrimination policies after fans of Mexico started chanting the antigay slur for a male prostitute and showering the field with objects. Players from both teams were struck by the objects, and U.S. midfielder Giovanni Reyna lay on the ground for several minutes after he was hit on the head. The U.S. eventually won the game by a score of 3-2 on a game-winning penalty kick by Christian Pulisic in the 114th minute.

Those words have an impact, Paul Ruiz, co-founder of the Pride Republic Supporters Group, said.

"When Banc of California Stadium opened, we were told that 'Everybody belongs in LA,'" Ruiz said in a statement. "We live and breathe this in Pride Republic. 'Everybody' means the teenager attending the game with her family, the boy sitting with his dad and uncles in the South End, the new couple coming to their first game. When they hear 'the chant,' they don't feel like they belong. Let's stand 'Shoulder to Shoulder' all the time. Don't do 'the chant.'"

In their season opener on Saturday, the LAFC won in dominating fashion against the Colorado Rapids, 3-0.

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