Ashley Cole - Anti-Gay Abuse By Arsenal Fans
Arsene Wenger & Thierry Henry urged to condemn homophobia.
Call to eject and suspend anti-gay fans.
London - 8 December 2006
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and captain Thierry Henry are being urged to speak out against plans by their fans to subject Ashley Cole to gay-baiting taunts this Sunday, 10 December, when Arsenal plays Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Cole used to play for Arsenal and many Arsenal fans are angered by his defection to rival team Chelsea FC.
"Arsenal has, so far, failed to take any action to stop the fan's planned homophobic attacks on Cole," said Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group OutRage!
A copy of Mr Tatchell's letter to Arsenal managing director, Keith Edelman, follows below.
"Jibes and ridicule by fans are acceptable, but not when they involve racism or homophobia. Bigotry has no place in football," Mr Tatchell added.
"Earlier this year, Cole was the subject of gay rumours, which included allegations involving the use of a mobile phone. Cole denied the allegations and won a legal case in court.
"Nevertheless, Arsenal fans continue to abuse him about his sexuality, chanting 'Ashley Cole is a rent boy' and other homophobic insults.
"The fans' website, Arsenal World, encourages club supporters to take blow-up mobile phones to the Chelsea v Arsenal match this Sunday, in order to taunt Cole over the gay rumours.
"They are also urging fans to download and print-out fake £20 notes, which replace the image of HM The Queen with an image of a tiara-wearing Ashley Cole in drag.
"Many years ago racist football fans took blow-up bananas to matches to abuse black players. They also brandished 'sambo' images.
"To taunt Cole, this Sunday many Arsenal fans plan to brandish blow-up phones and fake £20 notes depicting 'Queen Ashley.'
"Racist and homophobic abuse are both equally sickening and unacceptable.
"There is nothing wrong with a bit of banter by football fans. Much of it is clever, imaginative and very funny. Having moved to a rival club, Ashley Cole has to expect ridicule from Arsenal fans. But taunts involving racism or homophobia are a taunt too far. Racist mockery is wrong, and so is anti-gay mockery.
"OutRage! has written to the Football Association, and to Chelsea and Arsenal football clubs. We are calling on them to condemn homophobic taunts against Cole and to penalise the perpetrators.
1. " Chelsea stewards and the police should search Arsenal fans going into the stadium and confiscate any homophobic materials.
2. "We want fans involved in homophobic taunts to be photographed, ID'ed and ejected from the ground, and later to be penalised with lengthy match bans.
3. I have written to Arsenal FC requesting that Arsene Wenger and Thierry Henry publicly urge their fans to not use homophobic insults.
"It is very important that the Football Association, and Chelsea and Arsenal football clubs, take a high-profile stand against anti-gay abuse.
"Gay players, or those imagined to be gay, have a right to expect firm action against homophobia, in the same way that football clubs now take firm action against racism.
"The ugliness of homophobia is incompatible with the beautiful game," said Mr Tatchell.
Met Police plan tough action against homophobic Arsenal fans
Friday, 8 December - 12.30pm
In response to requests by the gay human rights group OutRage!, the Met Police are putting in place an action plan to prevent the homophobic abuse of Ashley Cole at the Arsenal v Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge this Sunday.
It is one of their biggest operations against prejudiced, bigoted fans. It follows plans announced on the Arsenal World website for fans to mock and ridicule Ashley Cole's sexuality.
"The police and football clubs have agreed to all our suggested preventative measures," said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!
" Chelsea stewards will be searching Arsenal fans as they enter the stadium and confiscating homophobic materials.
"The police will leaflet the fans with anti-homophobic flyers, and put anti-homophobic messages on the big screen inside the ground.
"CCTV cameras will be trained on Arsenal fans to gather evidence for later prosecutions and match bans. Additional police evidence gathering teams will also be deployed at the match.
"Chelsea and Arsenal FC's plan to make a public statement deploring homophobia, in advance of Sunday's game.
"We commend the Football Association, the Chelsea and Arsenal clubs and the Metropolitan Police for their swift and effective action," said Mr Tatchell.
OutRage!'s letter to the managing director of Arsenal FC, Keith Edelman, follows below. Similar letters have been sent to Simon Johnson, Director of Corporate Affairs at the Football Association, and to Edward Ashwell, Head of Security at Chelsea FC.
7 December 2006
Dear Keith Edelman,
Planned homophobic taunts against Ashley Cole this Sunday
I am writing to request that you take preemptive action to thwart the planned homophobic taunting of Ashley Cole by Arsenal FC fans this Sunday, 10 December, which is, incidentally, UN Human Rights Day.
Some of your fans are planning to subject Ashley Cole to homophobic ridicule when Arsenal play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Jibes and ridicule by fans are acceptable, but not when they involve racism or homophobia. Bigotry has no place in football.
As you know, earlier this year Cole was the subject of gay rumours involving the use of a mobile phone. Cole denied the allegations and won a legal case in court.
Nevertheless, Arsenal fans continue to abuse him about his sexuality, chanting "Ashley Cole is a rent boy" and other homophobic insults.
Arsenal supporters at the fans' site, Arsenal World, are now encouraging fellow fans to take blow-up mobile phones to the Chelsea v Arsenal match this Sunday to taunt Cole about the gay rumours.
They are also encouraging fans to download and print out fake £20 notes, which doctor the banknote image of HM The Queen; replacing it with an image of a tiara-wearing Ashley Cole in drag.
You can read about the fan's plan here:
You will recall that many years ago racist football fans took blow-up bananas to matches to taunt black players and also brandished "sambo" images.
This Sunday they plan to take blow-up phones and fake drag photos to the match to homophobically taunt Ashley Cole.
Both racist and homophobic abuse are equally sickening and unacceptable.
I hope you agree and that Arsenal FC will take firm action to prevent Sunday's planned homophobic abuse of Ashley Cole and to discipline any fans who succeed in making homophobic taunts.
To his credit, Cole denied the gay rumours but took the trouble to say that while he is not gay, he doesn't think being gay is wrong or shameful. This is a very commendable stance.
So far, Arsenal FC is not taking any action to stop their fan's planned prejudiced attacks on Cole.
I urge you liaise with the FA, the police and with Chelsea FC to prevent any homophobic abuse or taunts against Ashley Cole this Sunday, including:
1. Securing the agreement of Chelsea FC that their stewards and the police will search all Arsenal fans going into the stadium and that homophobic materials will be confiscated.
2. Agreeing with Chelsea FC that any fans involved in homophobic abuse will be photographed, ID'ed and ejected from the ground and that they will subsequently face lengthy match bans and other appropriate disciplinary action.
3. That Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, captain Thierry Henry and other senior Arsenal players and officials will issue a public appeal on Friday, urging their fans not to indulge in homophobic insults.
You have advance warning of the planned abuse by some of your fans. It is very important that Arsenal FC take a public stand on this issue.
Gay players, or those imagined to be gay, have a right to expect firm action against homophobia, in the same way that you would take firm action against racism.
Homophobia has no place in any sport.
I look forward to receiving your assurance that Arsenal will pursue the afore-mentioned three-point action plan.
Please advise me asap what you intend to do.
Human Rights Advocate
OutRage! - The campaign for LGBT human rights
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