Bisexual non league footballer have been unhappy with the type of punishment given to a homophobic player which came during a match.
Jahmal Howlett-Mundle was playing for Sheppey United in August 2021 when Ayokunle Odedoyin of Tower Hamlets FC used abusive language towards him.
He wrote via his Twitter account: “Real shame that a @TowerHamletsFC player was narrow minded enough to call me a “gay p*ssy” during the game. Comments such as those will not get under my skin or throw me off my game, and I do understand that unfortunately it will happen again.
“So glad that @SheppeyUFC teammates/management supported me during & after the game and I would like to believe something will be done about this by @EmiratesFACup & @SCEFLeague by following up on this incident, in the hope that it will help to eradicate homophobia within football”
Odedoyin, 32, has since been found guilty at Bexley Magistrates’ Court in June and was sentenced on Wednesday, receiving a fine.
Mr Howlett-Mundle said: “I don’t think justice has been done.”
Odedoyin heard that he must complete 120 hours of unpaid work, and told to pay £1,120 in compensation and court costs.
Sheppey United’s Jadmal Howlett-Mundle, who is bisexual, suffered homophobic abuse during a match. He doesn’t think justice has been done after his abuser was fined. https://t.co/CbsmhlEUoN
— BBC South East (@bbcsoutheast) July 13, 2022
Speaking to BBC South East, Howlett-Mundle said: “I don’t think it’s going to deter people in the future from being homophobic.
“With short sentences like this how are people supposed to understand that there’s a lot of pain and suffering that does happen to people like myself and other active LGBTQ+ football players.”
Tower Hamlets FC was losing the game before Odedoyin produced a late tackle on Mr Howlett-Mundle and verbally abused him, in a game which saw Sheppey United win 4-1, a spokesman for the Crown Prosection Service (CPS) said.
Former Crystal Palace youngster Howlett-Mundle tweeted it was a “real shame” following the game on the 7th of August.
Tower Hamlets FC then asked for the player’s shirt number and promised to investigate.
Speaking to BBC South East after the match, Howlett-Mundle said: “I kept my cool as best as possible but it was really difficult holding in the tears while still trying to complete the game.”
Odedoyin was found guilty of one count of using threatening or abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
Following a trial in June, Rebecca Helliwell from the CPS said: “Calling out and prosecuting homophobic language is vital to stamping out hate crime. These vile slurs have no place on our football pitches or society.”
Some may recall Howlett-Mundle – also a full-time primary school teacher – taking the decision to come out to his teammates in July 2021.
He said he hoped that by being open about his sexuality it would give others the confidence to follow suit.
In July 2021, Howlett-Mundle took the decision to reveal to his teammates he was coming out.
— Sheppey United FC (@SheppeyUFC) July 27, 2021
“I’m not the type of person to reveal large parts of my personal life and usually keep myself to myself. I certainly felt it was the right time to be honest with myself and my loved ones and by being open about my sexuality, maybe it will give others the confidence to follow suit,” he said to the Sheppey United website.
“Football still has room for improvement in terms of players coming out and being themselves, but with the likes of Thomas Hitzlsperger and Thomas Beattie having done so, it’s slowly starting to evolve. We have seen other sports people like Gareth Thomas (Rugby) and Tom Daley (Diving) come out years ago and they are great role models for people like me.
“I believe I’ll be a better version of the Jahmal you already know. Whatever anyone’s sexuality, you should not be treated any differently – I’m just as hungry as any other player to step onto the football pitch and give my all to win for our team and our supporters”.
“I always wished I had somebody that looked like me, that grew up where I grew up and played football to look up to when I was younger” said Jahmal.
Upon speaking to Marcel Nimani, Sheppey United Assistant Manager, Marcel had nothing but praise for the defender. “Jahmal is a great footballer and leader for us on the pitch and an inspirational influencer off the field. In the 21st century, sexual orientation of a person is a normal existence in our society, but unfortunately in football it’s not quite the case. Bravery acts like Jahmal’s play a massive part in normalising members of the LGBTQIA+ community within football. I believe these acts go a long way in supporting many struggling sports people.
“I thank Jahmal for the trust that he has put into our club and we as a club are fully supportive of Jahmal in what is an emotional time for him.”
To finish up, Jahmal was thankful to all at Sheppey United, saying: “I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve received by my teammates and the staff here at Sheppey United since I told them the news. The club have been great in supporting me and I look forward to having a great season with them as we look to start our promotion push at the weekend.”
The Lesbian, Gay and Bi-sexual charity
Information Line: 08000 50 20 20
Stonewall also works with a whole range of agencies to address the needs of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the wider community. Stonewall can’t give legal advice or help you to pursue a case or complaint, but our trained volunteers and staff aim to put you in touch with the people that can. We can point people towards gay-friendly solicitors and local lesbian, gay and bisexual support groups and services.
Blow the whistle on Hate Crime
Stonewall has recently released new guidance for the public on what to do if you have experienced a hate crime or incident. YouGov research has shown that one in five lesbian,gay and bisexual people have experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years. And three in four of those didn’t report them to the police. Blow the Whistle gives clear, concise information for people who are victims of homophobic hate crime. The guide explains what homophobic hate crime is, why hate crime should be reported and what to say when reporting it. A third of victims don’t report incidents because they don’t think the police would or could do anything about it.
LGF – The Lesbian and Gay Foundation
Support, advice & InformationHelpline: 0845 3 30 30 30
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) is a vibrant charity with a wide portfolio of well-established services and a rapidly developing range of new initiatives aimed at meeting the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. We campaign for a fair and equal society where all lesbian, gay and bisexual people can achieve their full potential, and our mission is: ‘EndingHomophobia, Empowering People.’
The Terence Higgins Trust
Freephone: 0800 802 1221
Growing up and entering the world of sex and relationships can seem confusing and worrying at first. If you are not sure if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you may find it helpful to talk to someone you trust about your feelings. THT is there to answer your questions and give you some support.
thesite.org – Coming Out
thesite.org – HateCrime & Discrimination
TheSite.org aims to be the first place all young adults turn to when they need support and guidance through life. Understanding your sexuality is something that can involve a lot of soul-searching – it’s been said the first person you need to come out to is yourself. Coming to terms with the fact you’re gay is one thing, but telling the world is quite another. This site has some tips on making it easier.
Parent’s Helpline: 08451 205 204
Whatever your problem or concern we are here to support you. All problems, whether big or small, will be answered with the same level of care and concern. Your call will be treated as confidential and you can remain anonymous.
bullying.co.uk – Homophobic Bullying
BeatBullying works with children and young people across the UK to stop bullying.
We empower young people so deeply affected by bullying that they can barely face going to school every day. We help young people to support each other. We help young people that bully to change their attitudes and behaviour. We shape attitudes, and change behaviours.
If you’re being bullied, or are feeling a bit low, or are maybe troubled by something and you’re not sure what to do or who to talk to, then BeatBullying is where you can go for help. It doesn’t matter how big or small you think the problem is, or whether you’re being targeted online or offline, our Mentors are here to listen and support you.
Helpline: 0808 808 4994
Get Connected helps under 25s with a wide range of issues and can put you in touch with the right sort of help near you no matter what your worry is. Get connected is a friendly website for children and young people.
HOPELINEUK: 0800 068 4141
Support for anyone under 35 experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned that a young person may be experiencing thoughts of suicide.
Stop Hate Crime
Helpline: 0800 138 1625
We provide 24 hour support to people who have been affected by Hate Crime. Victims and witnesses can contact us by phone, text, post or online to report Hate Crimes, access support, and get information. Click here for more information, or to make a report. Our Hate Crime reporting services are currently available in these areas.
Victim Supportline: 0845 30 30 900
VictimSupport is a charity for anyone affected by crime. We have offices all over the country and help over a million people every year. We give free support to victims and witnesses of crime, and their family and friends. Our volunteers are trained to make sure that if you are affected by crime you can get the information,help and support you need. Our WitnessService has volunteers who are trained to support you if you have to go to court as a witness. We are independent – we are not part of the police or government. You do not have to report the crime to the police to come to us. That’s up to you.