French football president: Homophobia is part of game's 'folklore'
France's Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) president Nathalie Boy de la Tour came under fire on Tuesday after saying homophobic chants were part of the culture of the sport.
Boy de la Tour's comments sounded out of sync with the view of organisations like "Rouge Direct" (straight red card) in France and "Kick It Out" in Britain which aim to stamp out homophobia, racism and discrimination in football.
"What you hear in a stadium, you won't hear it outside when you go shopping," Boy de la Tour said in an interview with Le Parisien, reacting to sports minister Roxana Maracineanu's proposal to work harder to implement a ban homophobic chants in stadiums. "In the stadium it's not acceptable as such but it's part of the folklore.
"I'm not making excuses. But when you talk about homophobic chants, for a lot of supporters, it's part of the folklore."
"SOS Homophobie," one of France's oldest anti-homophobia associations, said Boy de la Tour's comments risked making homophobia seem acceptable or normal.
"Taking the view, like the LFP president is doing, that homophobic chants in football stadiums are part of the 'folklore' means relativising and tolerating homophobia," a statement read.
Rouge Direct called on fans to send them videos of homophobic comments or chants so they can pass them on to the LFP.
"We will help the LFP sanction the homophobic chants, which are punished by law," Rouge Direct said in a statement.
Maracineanu said she had been shocked by the chants she heard at the Parc des Princes this month when she attended Paris Saint Germain's 3-1 defeat of Marseille.
"There was latent racism in one specific chant, and essentially there were chants with a homophobic connotation," she said.
Another French association, "Stop Homophobie," said they was "stunned" by Boy de La Tour's comments. Stop Homophobie have filed a complaint against former France international Patrice Evra after he targeted PSG players with homophobic insults on social media after Manchester United knocked the Ligue 1 leaders out of the Champions League.
Marlene Schiappa, Secretary of State for Gender Equality, told France Info radio on Tuesday that "homophobic chants are the beginning of a cycle that can lead to violence and that there are more homophobic assaults in the public space."
French rugby is also dealing with homophobia, after a homophobic video targeting Biarritz president Jean-Baptiste Aldige appeared on social media last weekend.
"The LNR (Ligue Nationale de Rugby) supports the club and its president and firmly condemns any kind of homophobia, which is at the extreme opposite of the values that we defend," a statement read.