Fans of the French soccer club Marseille weren’t pleased when their team lost a Champions League match to Tottenham, one of the top clubs in the Premier League.
They shamefully reacted by rioting and tearing down a Pride flag.
Five Marseille fans were arrested in the aftermath of Tottenham’s 2-0 victory this week, with the clashes occurring towards the end of stoppage time at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The fracas started when some members of Marseille’s traveling contingency launched missiles and flares in the direction of the home section, The Athletic reports.
Marseille fans then tore down the Pride Flag.
It all kicked off after the game. Marseille ultras pulled down the pride flag at the Tottenham Stadium after the game was finished. pic.twitter.com/DXX0gljGEG— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) September 7, 2022
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said arrests were “for a variety of [offenses] including offensive weapons, affray, drunk and disorderly and drugs.”
Police in riot gear eventually had to break up the melee.
Marseille fans kicking off towards full-time. Whole barrage of police deployed to stop them getting to the Spurs fans, drinks and bottles being thrown in all directions. #THFC pic.twitter.com/rRlcEQCHMt— Mitch Fretton (@mitch_fretton) September 7, 2022
One Twitter user shared a video of a flare being thrown into Tottenham’s section.
Ugly scenes at Tottenham stadium. Started with Marseille fans throwing a few missiles at Spurs fans, before escalating into a fight with stewards. Riot police arrived to calm things down.#Spurs #Marseille #ucl #fight #steward #attack pic.twitter.com/wZ21e3xKyc— Andrej N. (@_walkeran) September 7, 2022
The Pride flag also features the Spurs’ symbol, which may explain why it became one of the rioters’ targets. Still, the image of soccer fans tearing down an LGBTQ Pride flag is odious and uncomfortable.
Homophobic behavior among fans is a problem in the men’s international soccer circuit, most notably in Mexico, where fans of the Mexico national team are now facing five-year bans for anti-gay chants at matches.
Earlier this year, U.S. Soccer moved to ban anti-gay chants at matches on U.S. soil.
There have also been some recent homophobic outbursts from players and coaches. A longtime coach in Mexico was suspended last year for using an anti-gay slur at a press conference, and a goalie in the Swiss league was fined two weeks ago for using gay as an insult after a match. A French soccer league player also sat out a game to avoid wearing a Pride-themed uniform.
While there’s been progress on inclusivity in men’s soccer — stadiums across Germany were illuminated in rainbow last year for Germany’s game against Hungary in the European soccer championships — the aforementioned episodes show that homophobia still persists around some corners of the game.
That’s why it’s a big deal when a Pride flag gets torn down.