De Keere (2018b) argued that, as social beings, humans endlessly pursue moral recognition or self-worth and therefore, the role of morality remains a vital element within the study of social cohesion and conflict. As such, homophobic chanting at UK soccer grounds, juxtaposed with ‘hate crime’ legislation, provides a porthole into British social frictions as it grapples with the disparate loci of an increasingly moral, progressive society conflicting with embedded, localised values. British society (Evans 2023) imagines that gay people should be able to access soccer stadia without the fear of discrimination but remain unconscious as to both the impact that homophobic chanting can have and the punitive criminal punishments it induces. Meanwhile, the legal authorities within England are robustly pursuing a subjective policy that identifies perceived homophobic activity as a ‘hate-crime.’ In April 2023, an English Premier League soccer team (Wolves) made an announcement to its own supporters to refrain from chanting a homophobic song at rival Chelsea supporters. The response from supporters was derisive and the song was repeated by an even larger number of supporters. West Midlands police made three arrests based on hate crime laws and the actions of the supporters was condemned by both clubs. This prompted outrage from Wolves supporters on social networks and highlighted the difference that exists between moral laws and fan values. This research answers the call for further research into the potential geodemographic divide between northern and southern attitudes towards a progressive agenda on socially acceptable language in English Football stadium.
Senior Teaching Fellow, Business, Law, and Social Sciences, Birmingham City University, Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom
Football, Soccer, Homophobia, Hate, Social Cohesion