14 July 2023

Wolves first club to be sanctioned for homophobic ‘Chelsea rent boy’ chant by FA

14 July 2023

Wolves have become the first club to be sanctioned by the Football Association solely over the homophobic chant of ‘Chelsea rent boy’ by their fans.

The Premier League side have been hit with a six-figure fine and imposed with an action plan by the FA after supporters chanted the slur during a fixture against Chelsea in April.

While the FA has always condemned the use of the term, a statement from the governing body in January confirmed to clubs they could now be charged with disciplinary action if their fans engage in discriminatory behaviour – including the use of the term ‘rent boy’.

Wolves have accepted breaches to FA rule E21 following incidents where written reasons for the charges stated: “a chant by a large number of supporters for a prolonged period of approximately 20 seconds each in the 61st and also in the 71st minutes.”

Three arrests were made by West Midlands Police for alleged homophobic chanting during the game.

Wolves have been fined £100,000 and issued an 11-point action plan as it was deemed their reaction and response to the homophobic chanting was inadequate.

In its written reasons for the charges, an Independent Regulatory Commission said a public announcement made 10 minutes after the chanting was heard was “weak” while the lack of reaction from matchday stewards was also condemned.

It was noted that the post-match response from Wolves deserved praise but the commission said there had been “a clear and significant break down between taking on board what The FA has said in its statement about the Chant and actually doing anything about it.”

Included in the action plan imposed alongside the fine and to begin from the 2023/24 season, the club has to communicate the outcome and response to the charge on their website, social media and in the next matchday programme.

Wolves will not cease in its work with supporters, communities and local stakeholders to drive LGBTQ+ inclusion

In their response on their official website, a Wolves statement said: “We will continue to campaign for inclusivity in football and society and to tackle discriminatory abuse whether inside stadiums or online.

“Furthermore, Wolves will not cease in its work with supporters, communities and local stakeholders to drive LGBTQ+ inclusion and ensure the game we love is a place where everyone is respected and can feel safe playing or supporting their team.”

Other points on the action plan called for a full review of steward management, development of educational programmes, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work and a zero-tolerance media campaign.

Wolves will also have to review ticket sales policies, deploy announcements and messages to target the prevention of discriminatory chanting and have an FA compliance officer present at their next home game against Chelsea – currently scheduled for December 23.

There were 106 reported incidents of hate crime involving sexual orientation at matches in England and Wales during the 2021-22 season, according to Home Office figures released last year. That represented a 186 per cent increase on 2018-19, the last full season unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, when there were 37 such incidents reported.

Last season the ‘rent boy’ chant was heard at Chelsea’s matches against Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, and also at the Manchester United v Everton FA Cup match, where it was aimed at then-Toffees boss Frank Lampard, a former Chelsea player and manager.

Earlier this week, a Fulham supporter was been banned from football for three years and fined after admitting a public order offence relating to homophobic chanting.

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