Former Chelsea and England left-back Graeme Le Saux recently joined Chelsea Pride co-chair Tracy Brown at Cobham to discuss how the club and our official LGBT supporters’ group are working together to kick homophobia, biphobia and transphobia (HBT) out of football.
Chelsea Pride was established in 2016 to increase visibility of and to provide a representative voice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) fans, their friends and families.
Their aim is to raise awareness and campaign to kick HBT discrimination and abuse out of football, working together with the club, other organisations and LGBT supporters’ groups up and down the country to tackle discrimination on all levels, celebrate diversity and promote inclusion for all.
Le Saux, who endured homophobic abuse during his playing career, was recently announced as the Chelsea Pride patron and said: ‘It pretty much became part of my story, the homophobic abuse I got as a player. It was all based on rumours, ignorance and I think of bit of pantomime at one point.
‘Thankfully I know no other player who will go through what I went through because the environment has changed so much. It’s not perfect, and there are a lot of issues that we need to focus on and highlight in order to improve even more.
‘But I think we’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time and the fact that the club have got their own equality consultant, who oversees everything, is a big step in the right direction which other clubs should follow.’
Through our Building Bridges programme the club work with Chelsea Pride and equality campaigning groups to ensure that Chelsea FC is a safe and inclusive club for everyone, including LGBT people.
The club has worked with Chelsea Pride to provide workshops for matchday stewards, and for the last two years has taken part in Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign. The club will be supporting this once against this year with our fixtures against Fulham and Yeovil Town Ladies dedicated to the campaign.
Of our LGBT work, Tracy said: ‘In years gone by Chelsea used to be a very hostile place to go to, many places around the country were. There are lots of things to be done but we are making progress. We still hear abuse in the stands – not as much as we used to.
The club have been fantastic, I’m now part of the Fans’ Forum which is based within the club and so I’m the voice of LGBT supporters group which is great.
‘We have a banner up on the East Stand that’s permanently there. Everything we do the club are right there backing us.
She added: ‘I want to go to a football game and enjoy it, be happy, sing the songs, support my team and see us win, that’s what I want. I don’t want to have to be looking over my shoulder at someone being abusive.’
Supporters can also play an important part in the fight against discrimination on a matchday. Each matchday programme details specific numbers and confidential text services for fans to report discriminatory chanting or behaviour.
If you witness such behaviour during a game, please send a text message to 07894 93 77 93 with the stand, row, seat number and description of the offender and incident. Alternatively, you can phone 0207 386 3355 and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.