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French refs told not to stop for anti-gay chants

French Football Association President Noel Le Graet
French Football Association President Noel Le Graet does not want games stopped for anti-gay chants.

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet said he wanted referees not to interrupt matches in case of anti-gay chants, despite new rules introduced by the FFF this season that permit such interruptions.

The FFF introduced new rules this season enabling referees to interrupt play in the event of any such incident.

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"I would not stop the games -- [I am] totally against this," Le Graet told French radio France Info on Tuesday.

Asked if referees would follow his request in this weekend's matches, Le Graet said: "I hope so.

"We will make sure there are no more [anti-gay banners and chants]. But stopping a game? No."

Several Ligue 1 matches have been briefly interrupted by referees this season because of anti-gay chants in the stands, in accordance with new rules the FFF enforced this season.

The president does not have the authority to instruct referees to go against the new rules.

Le Graet added, however that he would stop a game in the event of racist chants.

"I would stop a match if there are racist chants, that is clear," he said.

The distinction he made drew a rebuke from sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who spoke to reporters in parliament.

"The position of Noel Le Graet, which differentiates racism and homophobia, is erroneous," she said. "I never said the world of football was homophobic.

"But we can encourage them to take their share of responsibility in the fight against discrimination in general."

Jeremy Faledam, the president of the SOS Homophobie association, expressed a similar view.

"It's unsettling," Faledam said. "He makes a hierarchy between racism and homophobia, which are two types of discrimination that need to be fought just the same."

Several Ligue 1 matches have been briefly interrupted by referees this season because of homophobic chants in the stands, in accordance with new rules the FFF enforced this season.

The president does not have the authority to instruct referees to go against the new rules.

The rules were publicly supported by Maracineanu, who last week said she was "astonished" by previous comments from Le Graet that "too many matches" had been stopped because of incidents of anti-gay sentiments.

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