We’re one week into 2023 and an anti-gay slur has been chanted by English Premier soccer fans twice already.
The latest incident occurred Friday when Manchester United fans could be heard chanting “Chelsea rent boy” toward Everton coach Frank Lampard, a former Chelsea player and manager. The Football Assn. says it will investigate the chant, which is classified as a hate crime in England.
A statement from the FA said: “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 affect their experience and feeling of inclusion at football matches, so that a clearer stance and understanding on the chant can be established.”
Last week, it was fans of Nottingham Forest who chanted “Chelsea rent boy” at Chelsea players, an incident being investigated by England’s Crown Prosecution Service.
‘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.
After the most recent chant, Man U’s LGBTQ support group, the Rainbow Devils, condemned the chant, tweeting, “We strongly condemn the taunting of Frank Lampard with the illegal and homophobic chant from a section of our fans and call for the club to take action.” group tweeted.
The group called on the team “to do everything in their power to identify the culprits and deal with them in the strongest possible manner.”
Fans have been warned time and time again about using this chant, but nothing seems to deter those bound and determined to utter the slur. Only identifying them, revoking ticket privileges for life and prosecuting them will make any difference.