Brighton have announced that two visiting supporters were arrested on suspicion of homophobic abuse during Sunday’s match with Wolves at the Amex Stadium.
Two men, aged 46 and 48 from Bridgnorth in Shropshire, were ejected from the away section during the 2-2 draw and later arrested by Sussex Police outside the ground. They have since been released pending investigation.
The incident was one of several cases of alleged homophobic abuse at top-flight matches during a week in which the Premier League has backed Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people in sport.
Brighton’s chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber told the club’s official website: “It’s both sad and depressing that once again we find ourselves having to address another situation of discriminatory abuse.
“Prior to kick-off, we had a huge show of support for the Rainbow Laces campaign brilliantly backed by the vast majority of people inside the stadium, and yet before the game is over, we are forced to deal with these two individuals, who think it’s okay to behave in this way.
“Working with Sussex Police, I’m pleased to report that once again our staff were able to take swift action, which hopefully will increase the chances of a conviction. We simply won’t stand for it at the Amex.
“Once again, it’s very hard to comprehend why some individuals think it’s acceptable to behave in this way, but we are very clear that neither Brighton and Hove Albion, nor the wider football community, will tolerate homophobia or discrimination at any time, in any form.
“We would urge any fans confronted with similar discriminatory behaviour to report it immediately, either directly to a steward or via our anonymous hotline, and we will take strong action.”
Wolves have confirmed they will be supporting Sussex Police’s investigation into the incident and say they strongly condemn any form of discrimination.
A club statement said: “Wolves can confirm that there were two arrests for homophobic abuse at yesterday’s game against Brighton and Hove Albion.
“There is no room in football or society for discrimination of any kind, and the club strongly condemns such behaviour.
“Our ethos at Wolves is about being ‘One Pack’ – an attitude our supporters are very passionate about and that extends to our relationships across the football community, regardless of rivalries on the pitch.
“The club is now offering its support to Sussex Police in what is a criminal investigation.”
A Sussex Police statement said: “Two football fans were arrested following reports of homophobic gestures made at the Amex Stadium on Sunday 8 December.
“The suspects – both away fans during Brighton and Hove Albion’s match against Wolverhampton Wanderers – were identified by club stewards and arrested on suspicion of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
“The two men – aged 46 and 48, and both from Bridgnorth in Shropshire – have been released under investigation pending further enquiries.“
Monday’s announcements from Brighton and Wolves come after Everton launched an investigation on Sunday into reports of homophobic chanting aimed at Chelsea fans during the Toffees’ 3-1 victory at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Also on Sunday, a 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a racially-aggravated public order offence following Saturday’s Manchester derby between City and United at the Etihad Stadium.
On Saturday, a Burnley supporter, reported to be aged 14, was ejected following abuse directed towards Tottenham midfielder Son Heung-min. The South Korea international had scored a fine individual goal during the 5-0 win for hosts.
Tottenham and Burnley confirmed to the PA news agency on Monday that both clubs are working to establish the facts and seeking more information over the incident before making any further statement.