The main fan supporter group of one of the English Premier League’s most popular clubs is dealing with fallout after discovering that its newly elected co-chair has a history sending messages with homophobic and transphobic views to other board members.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, an unofficial fan organization of Chelsea F.C., recently named David Johnstone as the organization’s co-chair. Following this appointment, The Athletic published an exclusive report containing leaked messages from Johnstone that reveal his bigoted worldview. (The Athletic is a subscription website and the link is behind a paywall.)
Johnstone began circulating his thoughts in the wake of Rainbow Laces Week, the Premier League’s annual pride celebration held in conjunction with Great Britain’s Stonewall organization.
Among the leaked messages while discussing the celebration, Johnstone asserted that he was “1000% against promoting gay rights” and that LGBTQ relationships aren’t “the norm” or “natural.” Neither, apparently, is Johnstone’s grasp of mathematics.
Johnstone’s reactionary views further played on several familiar tropes previously laid out by so many bigots before him:
Responding to the idea of a CST Pride banner, Johnstone proclaimed: “Not going to happen in the Matthew Harding [stand] unless we have a ‘Proud of Being A White English Heterosexual’ crowd surfer.”
Regarding the week itself: “Nailed on that footballers who are made to wear rainbow laces and armbands are against it too but are forced to take part.” As The Athletic noted in response, Chelsea captains Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta are vocal supporters of LGBTQ rights.
And Johnstone didn’t focus his online hate exclusively on the gay community: “Cannot agree with the idea of transgender at all — you want diversity? I have diverse ideas so you’ll have to live with it.” As of press time, it should be noted that despite Johnstone’s disagreement, the transgender community continues to exist.
Once Johnstone’s history of bigotry was leaked, the Chelsea Pride fan group responded with a statement to The Athletic expressing no confidence in Johnstone “to fairly represent their LGBT members as the club’s recognized fan spokesman.”
The Athletic’s story quickly went viral and The Chelsea Supporters Trust issued an official response:
“The comments in question, which were expressed by a board member in a private communication, do not represent the position of The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust and the board does not condone them... The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust will work with external partners, such as the Football Supporters Association, to consider whether further action is appropriate.”
As of press time, Johnstone remains the organization’s co-chair.