Arsenal fans ‘sang homophobic song and hurled Antisemitic abuse’ at Finsbury Park pub
- Credit: Archant
Arsenal fans sang a homophobic song and hurled Antisemitic abuse at Orthodox Jewish men outside a Finsbury Park pub during the north London derby, according to a member of the Gay Gooners.
The LGBT supporters' group member was outside The Twelve Pins in Seven Sisters Road when he witnessed "several groups of fans" in the smoking area shout a racist slur, used commonly by and against Spurs supporters, "directly at the Jewish men".
The pub was packed for the game against Tottenham and he says he was too intimidated to intervene.
He's now calling on the pub, which says it has a zero tolerance policy towards hateful behaviour, to ring a bell or turn off the TVs every time a discriminatory comment is made.
He told the Gazette: "Four men were walking past, minding their own business, and for no reason at all people were saying that [slur]. They ignored them and kept on walking. It was the only option they had because if one of them had stopped they would be in danger.
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"They were obviously Arsenal fans who thought it funny. I have seen this before and when you confront them the usual pathetic response is: 'It's just a song mate, we have always sung it.'
"Some other Gay Gooners and me were in the Twelve Pins earlier in the afternoon joining in non-offensive chants about Tottenham and enjoying the build up to the match.
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"Then a lot of fans started on an Ashley Cole chant most Gay Gooners regard as being homophobic - it's long and difficult to listen to."
The man travelled to Azerbaijan for Arsenal's Europa League Final loss to Chelsea in May, where he called out a group of fans for singing a homophobic song.
He said most of them apologised to him but one man made further homophobic slurs to his face. He believes supporters need to be educated about what chants are discriminatory and offensive.
He added: "Fans feel that because a song has been sung for a long time and they enjoy singing it there is nothing wrong with it - they are, of course, wrong. It always makes me feel uncomfortable being gay or doing 'gay things' is something to be ridiculed.
"The club does what it can and Gay Gooners step in sometimes but drunk, excited fans and homophobes within such groups are difficult to confront on our own." He has since reported Sunday's incidents to the police.
The manager of the Twelve Pins has been approached for comment. A staff member at the pub said: "We don't tolerate it here. When we do hear them say anything like that we don't tolerate it but, as you can imagine, it was extremely busy so it's hard to keep an eye on every single one."
An Arsenal spokesperson said: "We totally condemn the use of language of this nature, which has no place in our game or society.
"We work hard as a club to encourage diversity and inclusion through our Arsenal for Everyone programme.
"Arsenal strives to ensure that everyone associated with the club feels an equal sense of belonging."
Cllr Una O'Halloran, executive member for community development, said: "Equality and tolerance lie at the heart of a just and cohesive society, and I was horrified and deeply disappointed to hear recent reports of anti-Semitic and homophobic chanting, which is absolutely unacceptable. There is no place for hate in Islington.
"We are liaising closely with the police on this matter to ensure any reports they received are being treated as potential hate crimes and investigated fully.
"We will also remind licensees of their responsibilities regarding prevention of crime and disorder linked to their premises."