Some fans of English Premier League team Nottingham Forest were chanting an anti-gay slur during the match against Chelsea on Sunday and authorities are looking into prosecuting anyone who used the term.
Fans at Nottingham Forest’s stadium were chanting “Chelsea rent boy” toward Chelsea players, a homophobic slur classified as a hate crime by England’s Crown Prosecution Service.
“A disappointing start to the year,” Crown Prosecution Service wrote on Twitter. “We remind everyone in football that homophobic chants can be, and have been, prosecuted as a hate crime. We’re speaking to our police contacts about this.”
The chants — which could be heard on the TV broadcast — were condemned by LGBTQ fan groups for both Chelsea and Nottingham Forest, with the latter saying it was “embarrassed and ashamed” by the chants.
Pink News, a British-based LGBTQ website gives informative background on the origins of “Chelsea rent boy”:
‘Chelsea rent boy’ is a demeaning phrase directed at Chelsea players and supporters by opposition fans. Whether those using it know it or not, the term has homophobic connotations that are intimately connected with Chelsea’s queer history.
A ‘rent boy’ is phrase used to describe a young male prostitute — specifically, a male prostitute who sells sex to other men.
The term has been directed at Chelsea players and fans rather than other football teams because of the London borough of Chelsea’s past status as an LGBTQ+ hotspot.
The Football Assn., which governs the sport in England, also condemned the chant, telling the Mirror, “We strongly condemn the use of the term ‘rent boy’ and we are determined to drive it out of our game. We continue to work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, as well as the UK Football Policing Unit, in relation to the use of this term.
“Part of our work in this area has been to provide the relevant authorities with impact statements from LGBTQ+ supporters, detailing how chants of this nature affects their experience and feeling of inclusion at football matches, so that a clearer stance and understanding on the chant can be established.”
These anti-gay chants have been a fixture at English soccer matches for far too long and to see this garbage continue in 2023 is infuriating. I hope they identify some of the people making the chants and make an example of them. Enough is enough.