Damien Delaney, a player for Crystal Palace of the English Premier League, says that comments from soccer fans are largely gone but that homophobic ones are more common.
“I’m not saying racism doesn’t happen anymore, but it’s very rare that you hear racism from the crowd,” said the 36-year-old on Sky Sports. ”Homophobic stuff is pretty brutal. That seems to be the new thing.
“It’s become acceptable now to yell obscenities and just give players grief,” added Delaney, who was speaking at an event by Crystal Palace and Fans For Diversity, which is a campaign run in partnership between Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation.
Kick It Out seeks to eliminate discrimination in soccer, but noted that reports of abuse in soccer rose 59% last year, with racism topping the list, followed by homophobia. Some of this rise is attributed to more people willing to report abuse.
Stamping out homophobic comments from fans is an ongoing issue at soccer stadiums. Racist comments have also been prevalent, including last month in Russia, site of the World Cup. It’s a sad reflection of fans if Delaney is right and homophobic remarks by fans “seem to be the new thing.”