Arsenal fan, who tried to escape police, receives a three year ban after being caught aiming an abusive chant at Brighton supporters.
The ‘supporter’ was found guilty at Brighton magistrate court after homophobic language at the Amex Stadium when the two sides met in October 2021.
21 year old Luke Reece was given a football banning order for three years and was fined and ordered to pay costs following a trial at Brighton Magistrates Court.
CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE STATEMENT:
A supposed football fan has been banned from watching live games for shouting homophobic abuse at a Premier League match.
Luke Reece, 21, was overheard yelling the abuse at nearby Brighton and Hove Albion fans by a member of staff at their game at the Amex Stadium on 2 October 2021.
Realising he had been spotted, Reece then attempted to leave the ground, but was stopped by staff and police and arrested.
Reece was today (5 April 2022) given a football banning order for three years and was fined and ordered to pay costs following a trial at Brighton Magistrates Court.
District Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East and CPS Football National Lead, Richard Dawes said: “There is no room for homophobia in society. The comments are unacceptable and would cause great offence regardless of the venue. Brighton is known for its inclusive culture with a large LGBTQI+ community.
“Behaviour like this will not be tolerated and we are grateful to the member of staff at Brighton and Hove Albion for their prompt response in both recognising the hateful nature of this chanting and taking immediate action to deal with the situation.”
The CPS is currently working with the police, clubs, player bodies and organisations, like the Premier League, the English Football League and the Football Association to explain what is required to charge by ensuring we have all the evidence we need to build the strongest case possible.
Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands and the CPS Sports Lead Prosecutor, Douglas Mackay said: “Over recent years and months, hate crimes relating to sporting events have been on the rise. A recent UK Football Policing Unit mid-season report has shown a significant rise in football-related criminality compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“At the CPS, we play a crucial role in tackling these crimes and making our national sport inclusive and safe to watch. There is no place for hate in football and hate crimes such as this has significant impact on victims.”
BRIGHTON CLUB STATEMENT:
Brighton & Hove Albion have welcomed the guilty verdict and a three-year banning order given to a fan who shouted homophobic abuse during the game against Arsenal at the Amex in October 2021.
Arsenal supporter Luke Reece, 21, was given a football banning order for three years and was fined and ordered to pay costs following a trial at Brighton Magistrates Court.
A club spokesperson said, “We have a zero-tolerance approach on all forms of anti-social behaviour, and this includes any form of abuse.
“We worked closely with Sussex Police to identify and prosecute the individual concerned and we welcome the guilty verdict from the courts. The individual will also be subject to an indefinite ban from the Amex.”
#BHAFC have welcomed the guilty verdict and a three-year banning order given to a fan who shouted homophobic abuse during the game against Arsenal in October 2021. 👇
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) April 7, 2022
In 2013, hundreds of Arsenal fans sang homophobic chants at Brighton for almost 90 minutes. Gay Gooners Twitter account said it was horrible to stand among it and hear it.
The blogger wrote: I remember vividly the chant going up. We were away at Brighton, in a Saturday afternoon league game, 1-0 up and cruising with roughly 25 minutes of the second half gone.
“Does your boyfriend!? Does your boyfriend!? Does your boyfriend know you’re here!?”.
I have heard the chant several times over the years, and can honestly say that the sentiment has never really bothered me at all.
I usually crack a smile and think to myself “yeah he does thanks”.
I’ve always accepted the chant with good humour, and even found it a little strange when friends (at opposite ends of the sexual spectrum) have reacted with righteous indignation on my part when the chant has come up in conversation.
This particular occasion felt different though.
The delivery wasn’t good natured, the words were being snarled with venom.
There I was surrounded by my “own” supporters, some who I know well enough to have a chat with when I bump into them in the pub pre-match, but as the words rang out I began to feel vulnerable in an environment where I should have felt completely at ease.
The words themselves weren’t the issue, it was a combination of the body language and the obvious hatred in the voices of some of those around me.
“Fucking faggots!” someone exclaimed.
“Fucking dirty shit stabbers!” another hollered.
I felt hollow, as though I had been slugged in the gut and winded.
I could feel the awkward reaction of my match day companions, as well as that of others around me who were uncomfortable with the sentiments expressed.
I could sense bodies rippling with spasms of disapproval, but voices either remained silent or else mouths quivered with nervous laughter.
The packed away end seemed to fall silent, but I think that was just because my mind was reeling.
I felt like the house lights had been dimmed and a solitary spotlight was focusing solely on me, singling me out in a crowd of thousands and analysing my reaction, looking for signs of weakness.
Glancing at my watch I saw there were still around 30 minutes left.
I shuffled my way down the row, apologising to everyone I squeezed past and feeling like a complete fraud.
Heading down the concrete steps at the back of the stand my knees felt weak and threatened to buckle.
The furthest exit gate was open so I jogged across the concourse and slid out of the ground as a roar from our end went up. 2-0. It barely registered.
I walked to the train station feeling utterly ashamed and never checked the full-time score. I haven’t attended a game since.
For a long time, I hated football.
I hated that a handful of individuals in a community I love so much had left me feeling so completely marginalised and ostracized.
There exists a thin line between love and hate, and once crossed it is very hard to pull back from.
I spent months grieving the loss of my relationship with football.
I stopped socialising with people in situations where I knew the game would invariably be a focus, a topic of conversation, or even just an inevitable reference point.
My reaction at times has felt pathetic, but equally wholly necessary. I needed to step away from the game and sever links completely, at least temporarily.
I’m not a “soft” man, physically or mentally.
I’m a 31-year-old, hard working lad who earns his living in an unskilled manual job in a very male dominated industry.