Gay soccer club Sydney Rangers call for ban against homophobic football fans
Australia’s first inclusive football club, the Sydney Rangers, has called for Federation Football Australia (FFA) to sanction fans of the Western Sydney Wanderers, who displayed a homophobic banner at the team’s derby match against Sydney FC last weekend.
The club is suggesting the FFA should sanction supporters involved in the incident and fine or ban them from Western Sydney Wanderers matches, in order to send a strong message that homophobia is not okay.
The Rangers say the FFA should honour their commitment to the anti-homophobia framework they signed onto in 2014 ahead of the gay rugby tournament, the Bingham Cup which was held in Sydney, and send a message to fans against the anti-social homophobic behavior.
“If the banner was racist, there would be no question of severe penalties for both the fans as well as the Wanderers. These fans are part of an officially sanctioned supporter group,” said Joseph Roppolo, President of the Sydney Rangers FC.
“The leadership of the FFA and the Sydney Wanderers need to send a strong message to these fans. They also need to prove they have zero tolerance for homophobic, discriminatory behaviour in sport.”
Last week a UK Parliamentary Inquiry called for 1-2 year bans on fans who use homophobic slurs and said homophobic behaviour has been tolerated in football culture for too long. Roppolo suggests the FFA should follow the UK’s lead and ban Wanderers fans.
Roppolo said in signing the anti homophobia framework in 2014 the FFA committed to eliminating homophobia in sport and a strong message needed to be sent to Wanderers fans on the impact the banner could have on players struggling with their sexuality.
Roppolo says the Sydney Rangers have reached out to the leadership of the Wanderers supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc and have offered to meet with the supporters to explain why the banner is so offensive and potentially very harmful.
Currently the Red and Black Bloc have yet to apologise for the homophobic banner.