The president of the French soccer league is making it clear she condemns homophobia after getting into hot water for a remark that linked anti-gay chants to “folklore.” Her comments that drew criticism from both an official of the French government and an LGBTQ advocacy group.
A match between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille at the Parc des Princes on March 17 was the latest soccer game marred by homophobic chants, this time by fans of PSG. France’s sports minister, Roxana Maracineanu, said she was appalled by the chants, and vowed she’d never take her children to that stadium.
Boy de la Tour — the first female president of the league — was asked about the chants on Monday at a meeting of the International League against Racism and anti-Semitism, or LICRA. Although she insisted she did not share their views, what she said next raised eyebrows.
“I’m not excusing what happened,” Boy de la Tour said, according to the AP. “When it comes to homophobic chants, for many fans, it’s part of folklore. This is the reality. The majority of fans don’t have the feeling they are hurting others. But I’m not telling you this is not serious. There is important work to do to educate people.”
SOS Homophobie, a group fighting violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people, posted a tweet denouncing Boy de la Tour’s comparison of chants to folklore. The tweet appeared in French but we’ve translated it here for our readers who only converse in English:
“To consider, like the LFP president does, that homophobic chants in football stadia are part of folklore tends to minimize and tolerate homophobia,” the group tweeted.
Marlene Schiappa, the French secretary of state for women’s rights, also criticized Boy de la Tour’s comment.
While the anti-gay chants continue unabated, French police insist they have successfully cracked down on racist and anti-Semitic acts at professional games. Officer Antoine Mordacq, who is in charge of coordinating police protection at matches, told the AP he believes there has not been a single conviction related to an incident at a soccer stadium so far this season.
In the U.S., the Los Angeles Football Club has teamed with GLAAD and union workers to make it clear to fans that anti-gay chants of “puto” and other homophobic slurs will not be tolerated.