The Football Association says it’s determined to drive the slur “rent boy” out of the sport after Liverpool’s Billy Gilmour was targeted with the “disgusting” chant on Saturday.
Edleen John, the FA’s equality, diversity and inclusion director, said the governing body “abhors” the term and views it as comparable to racist abuse.
“We absolutely do condemn the use of the word ‘rent boy’. It’s really negative, it’s not welcoming, it doesn’t create a sense of belonging, and frankly it’s disgusting,” John told Sky Sports News.
“We have to understand that ‘rent boy’ is on the same level [as racism].
“What we have to do is get to a place where the police and CPS systems view it in that same way so that the actions can be taken that we want to see across football and more broadly.
“That’s why we continue to work with groups, day-to-day constituents and individuals, the police, and the CPS to make sure that that information is there, that the terminology is really understood and that we can really drive it out of football.”
Homophobic ‘rent boy’ chant has been directed at Chelsea players for years
The chant was heard during Saturday’s (14 August) Premier League match between Liverpool and Norwich City, where Liverpool fans chanted “Chelsea rent boy” at 20-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour due to Chelsea being his parent club. He is currently on loan to Liverpool.
The disgraceful behaviour was called out by Kop Outs!, Liverpool FC’s LGBT+ fan group, which said the homophobic chanting had “marred” an otherwise positive game.
The incident occurred hours after Derby’s Championship defeat at Peterborough was marred by allegations of homophobia and racism from a minority of away fans.
Kick It Out, which works to combat racism, homophobia and discrimination in football, condemned the “rent boy” chant in 2019, saying it had been directed at Chelsea players for years “with little action taken by The Football Association or police – and that must not continue.”
“We are absolutely clear: the chant is homophobic and must be treated as such,” they stated.
The FA is currently bound by what the police and CPS regard as discriminatory language that can lead to prosecution. As with racist language, it is the police that enforce the laws, not the FA.
Sky Sports understands that the FA is now working with the authorities to get “rent boy” reclassified as discriminatory.
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