France vows ‘firm response’ to homophobic chants at football match

PARIS: The French government vowed Monday to punish football fans who chanted homophobic slurs at a top Ligue 1 clash at Paris’s Parc des Princes stadium.

During Sunday’s match between bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille groups of fans chanted lines such as “Marseille are faggots” and “we will hang them by the balls, but sadly they don’t have any”.

The chants — which did not appear targeted at individual players or fans — went on for close to 15 minutes, according to an AFP reporter in the Paris side’s home stadium.

“It is impossible to be deaf to such hateful and homophobic chants in our stands,“ said Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera on X, formerly called Twitter.

She said the chants had “ruined the party” at the Parc des Princes, the home ground of PSG which thrashed Marseille 4-0 on the night.

“I have made sure that a firm response will follow,“ the minister said, adding she had urged PSG to bring legal action against the chanting fans with a view to excluding them from future matches.

“We need urgently to eradicate such chants from our stadiums,“ she said.

Olivier Klein, the French government’s top official charged with the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and hatred towards LGBT people, said he was “shocked” by what he said where “unbearable homophobic chants” at Sunday’s match.

Klein, whose service is attached to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s office, said he was inviting the French professional football league (LFP) as well as PSG itself to ensure that “sanctions are taken”.

His services would also examine all possible legal recourse, Klein said, also on X.

– ‘No place in stadiums’ –

Klein attached a video to his post in which PSG fans are seen and heard chanting the insults, which had clearly been rehearsed.

Contacted Monday by AFP, PSG said it “condemns all forms of discrimination, notably homophobia, and reiterates that they have no place in stadiums or anywhere in society”.

The club said it would reinforce its “prevention work” and seek meetings “with all our partners on this crucial topic”.

But asked whether it would actually bring legal action, PSG did not respond.

The LFP league, meanwhile, declined AFP’s requests for comment, but media reports said the body’s disciplinary commission will examine the case from Wednesday.

PSG’s manager Luis Enrique, a Spanish national, said after Sunday’s match: “I’m sorry but I can’t tell whether these chants are friendly or hostile.”

PSG players declined any comment.

Some of them, including Randal Kolo Muani and Ousmane Dembele, were filmed chanting insults directed at the Marseille side as they celebrated their victory in front of the club’s most radical fans, known as “ultras”.

Sunday’s incident is far from isolated, according to an IPSOS poll this month for Federation Sportive LGBT+, an association fighting discrimination in sport.

The poll showed that 46 percent of those questioned said they themselves had seen homophobic or transphobic behaviour in sports.

Fewer than half those questioned believed that much was done to fight such attitudes.

Last season several Ligue 1 players refused an invitation to wear rainbow coloured insignia on their jerseys as a gesture against homophobia, a campaign supported, however, by the vast majority of players. –AFP