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Fan on extent of homophobic abuse at Nottingham Forest vs Brighton ahead of Rainbow Laces games in Premier League

Police have questioned two men over allegations of homophobic abuse during Brighton's win at Nottingham Forest last weekend; a Forest season-ticket holder told Sky Sports he felt unsafe at the game and that it is "concerning" nobody challenged the abuse

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Nottingham Forest fans sing Mull of Kintyre before the Premier League match against Brighton
Image: Nottingham Forest fans pictured before Saturday's Premier League match against Brighton

Two men have been questioned by police for alleged homophobic abuse during Brighton's win at Nottingham Forest last weekend.

PC Simon Travell of Nottinghamshire Police - who is the officer designated to Forest - wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: "This afternoon we have interviewed two males re their conduct/actions post match on Saturday.

"Both cases will now be reviewed ahead of a final decision on how they will be dealt with.

"Both expressed remorse and embarrassment for their actions."

A Forest season-ticket holder who attended Saturday's Premier League game said the extent of homophobic abuse from fans resulted in "the worst situation I've had at a football match".

Sussex Police confirmed to Sky Sports they were working with their Nottinghamshire counterparts and Forest to "identify and take appropriate action" after two allegations of homophobic abuse were made.

Ten-player Brighton's controversial 3-2 win sparked wild celebrations from the visitors and unsavoury scenes in the Upper Bridgford Stand, from where a number of home fans directed gestures and insults towards the away end below.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton's 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest

Forest supporter Peter Davey, attending the game with a friend, later posted to X about his matchday experience, referencing the alleged homophobic slurs and also claiming a threat was made towards him by another fan.

He has since spoken to Sky Sports to provide more detail on what happened and the damaging impact of the abuse, which occurred on the first day of the annual activation of Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign.

Davey's tweet prompted Forest's LGBTQ+ and allies supporters group, Proud Forest, to issue a statement. The group said Saturday's incidents were "hugely disappointing" and they would be submitting video footage "through the right channels".

On Monday evening, having been informed of Davey's account, Forest also released a statement insisting the individuals responsible for the abuse "will be dealt with appropriately".

The Premier League responded on X, saying it "condemns all forms of discrimination and will support the club and relevant authorities", while Kick It Out described the abuse as "disgusting" and said it had forwarded on reports that the organisation had received about the incidents.

It was during the second half on Saturday when Brighton extended their lead from the penalty spot in the 58th minute that the homophobic abuse began in earnest, said Davey.

"It was fairly obvious that homophobic gestures were being made, from one person in front of us in particular," he said.

"He was doing it for the majority of the second half but he wasn't the only one.

"At full-time, the celebrations from the Brighton players were pretty exuberant and that riled the Forest fans up. However, the language that they chose to use in retaliation to the Brighton players and fans was homophobic."

Davey said as he and his friend walked down the stand towards the exit, a group of Forest fans directed "a large number of slurs" at the away end.

"When my friend asked them to stop, they didn't - they started insulting him."

A request for assistance from a steward was unsuccessful, added Davey.

"One of the people who had been chanting and making insults with his mates then turned to me and called me a 'f***ing gay p***k' and said 'why don't you try and do something about it' - a threat to continue it outside."

A general stadium view of the City Ground during the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Brighton
Image: The incidents occurred in the second half and at full-time at the City Ground

Davey and his friend both play for an inclusive football club and have been attending Forest games for several years.

When asked to assess Saturday's incidents, he said: "That is easily the worst situation I've had at a football match.

"It's the first time I've felt personally unsafe like that. It isn't that unusual to hear homophobic or transphobic insults shouted at matches as one-off incidents, but for that to be sustained and then for that to be directed at us at the final whistle was genuinely scary."

Fans group Proud Forest, which started in August and is being backed by the club, is due to be officially launched at the designated Rainbow Laces campaign fixture on Saturday against Everton, live on Sky Sports.

Live: SNF

In its statement, the group said: "We are shocked and saddened by the homophobic incidents that occurred at the match today. From witness accounts and video footage that has been shared on social media, the actions of a small minority of our fans are hugely disappointing.

"Whilst we agree that the celebrations of the visiting team were over exuberant, this does not warrant homophobic abuse or mockery as shown in the footage. The individuals in the footage by no means represent the entire Forest family.

"We're truly sorry that visitors to the world famous City Ground have had to suffer and witness this abuse, particularly today - the first day of this year's Rainbow Laces campaign.

"We have the footage and will make sure this is passed on through the right channels in the hope that the individuals can be identified and dealt with accordingly.

"This behaviour is not welcome at the WFCG and we will continue to fight to ensure that incidents like this are eradicated from football."

Davey described the Proud Forest statement as "encouraging" but said it was not the first time he had witnessed homophobia at Forest matches.

"It was much worse in this game," he said. "But on two other occasions, I've heard the 'f****t' word used to describe fans of opposing teams and that's just from people around me at the game."

The Rainbow Laces campaign, now in its 10th year, is supported by the Premier League and its clubs.

New data released by the charity Stonewall, which runs the initiative, shows that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of those responding to a Walnut ICM survey said they would not confront someone making homophobic comments at a sports event.

Stonewall tweeted on Tuesday to say the incidents at the City Ground demonstrate "exactly why we still need Rainbow Laces."

The post continued: "LGBTQ+ people in sport should be respected for who we are, not harassed or threatened - on the pitch or in the stands.

"Solidarity with all fans who have experienced anti-LGBTQ+ abuse watching the game they love."

Davey believes it is "concerning" that he saw no other fans near him who were also prepared to challenge those who were being discriminatory.

"I don't think there is a culture yet whereby people are shocked and are not prepared to stand for that kind of language," he said.

"I think there is language that could be used at football games that people would be shocked by - but I don't think that is the case with homophobic and transphobic language.

"The latter obviously wasn't relevant in this case on Saturday but I have heard transphobic comments at football games all over the country and nobody bats an eyelid."

He highlighted the damaging impact that hearing this abuse in stadiums can have on LGBTQ+ people, particularly younger fans.

"It's desperately sad to think of that. There are kids all around in that sort of environment, people of all different ages and backgrounds.

"Some people don't have support groups. They don't necessarily have people to talk to about what they've seen.

"I feel less good about myself as a result of what happened on Saturday. I feel less confident about being gay. I feel ashamed of it, being the target of that language. But I have people who will help me and support me in that - not everybody does."

After being contacted by Sky Sports for comment, Forest released the following statement via the club's social media accounts.

"Following Saturday's Premier League fixture against Brighton and Hove Albion, we have been made aware of some homophobic language aimed towards Brighton players and supporters from a minority of our fans.

"Homophobia, like all other forms of discrimination, has no place in football or society, and anyone engaging in discriminatory behaviour is committing a criminal offence. We are actively working with Nottinghamshire Police to identify the individuals involved, and they will be dealt with appropriately.

"We would like to thank all our supporters who reported incidents. Nottingham Forest is committed to creating an inclusive environment which embraces and celebrates our differences. We want everyone who attends our stadium to have a positive experience."

Posting on X, the Premier League said: "The alleged homophobic abuse reported at Saturday's fixture between Nott'm Forest and Brighton has no place in football or society.

"The Premier League condemns all forms of discrimination and will support the club and relevant authorities. We will continue to work together with our clubs to ensure football is a welcoming and inclusive environment for all."

Kick It Out also responded via X: "Disgusting abuse like this only serves to create a culture in football where LGBTQ+ fans don't feel safe to be themselves.

"This is not the first time there has been alleged homophobic abuse from Nottingham Forest fans this season. The club and authorities need to take this issue seriously.

"Our reporting team are aware of these allegations and have forwarded reports received to the relevant authorities."

Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride which supports Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign, currently receiving its annual activation from November 25 to December 10.

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