Europe

Homophobic banners trigger suspension of French football game

Homophobic signs at Ligue 1 football game in France. Source: Twitter, @JBMontarnier

Social media users have praised the referee's swift suspension motion, following a similar incident in the country just weeks prior.

A referee who temporarily suspended a Ligue 1 match in Nice, France, after homophobic signs were propped up in the stands, has drawn in praise on social media. 

Clement Turpin's suspension, which lasted for ten minutes and saw players escorted off the field at Allianz Riviera stadium, occurred after the banners - including one referring to fenced-off sections of the stands as a "gay stadium" - were raised. 

Another banner at the Nice vs Marseille game referred to British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Team Ineos cycling team. The French term ‘pedale’ translates to pedal in English, but is also used as a derogatory term to describe gay people.

Nice soccer fans cheer beneath a banner that reads "Sir Ratcliffe" during the French League One soccer match.
Nice soccer fans cheer beneath a banner that reads Sir Ratcliffe during the French League One soccer match.
AP

Turpin suspended the match after fans ignored requests to stop anti-gay chants directed at the French league.

"The referee was right to stop the match," said Nice manager Patrick Vieira, in a press conference after the game.

"These things are unacceptable. The message was clear, and the referee didn't have a choice. He could have maybe given us a bit more time to go and see the supporters and to ask them to remove the banner. But he explained things to me that I fully understand.

"He didn't have a choice, and I think that he made the right decision. I hope that this won't happen again, in Nice or in any stadium."

Online praise for referee action

Mr Turpin's decision to suspend the game comes just weeks after a match between Nancy and Le Mans was stopped because of homophobic chanting.

The suspension was the first of its kind in France, and a reflection of France's new rules against discrimination, according to FIFA employee Alex Stone.

France's Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa praised the match official for his decisive actions.

"Congratulations to referee Clement Turpin, whose commitment to respect for football is known to have interrupted the match #OGCNOM #NiceOM, despite the fact that, despite several withdrawal requests, a homophobic banner dirtied the stands," she wrote on Twitter.

Nice's Patrick Burner, below, takes a tumble during the French League One soccer match between Nice and Marseille at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southern France.
Nices Patrick Burner takes a tumble during the French League One soccer match between Nice and Marseille at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southern France
AP, Daniel Cole

SOS Homophobie demonstrated solidarity with the LGBTI community.

"Homos or heteros, we all wear the same jersey. Homophobic language does not have to be tolerated in the stadiums. They must be fought and condemned," the organisation said.

Social media users also demonstrated their support online.

"Congratulations to the referee #ClementTurpin to have interrupted the match #OGCNOM despite several requests for withdrawal, a homophobic banner was deployed in the stands. Do not let anything pass," one user tweeted.

'Thanks to you #ClementTurpin for interrupting the game tonight', one user tweeted.

'Fight this plague love is love', another Twitter user posted.

Players eventually returned to the pitch, with Marseille beating the hosts 2-1.

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