MPs told there are no “bystanders” to abuse at Norwich City Football Club
- Credit: Archant © 2011
There are no bystanders to abuse at Carrow Road, a leading campaigner for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fans at Norwich City Football Club has told MPs.
Giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Di Cunningham, the organiser of Proud Canaries, told MPs that the visibility of LGBT fans at Carrow Road since a group had been formed in 2014 had changed things for everybody at the club, and not just LGBT people.
She told the committee of MPs how the club had taken them to heart since they were one of the first groups of its kind to form two years ago.
People having the confidence to report abuse believing the club would investigate it had accounted for fans in the stands 'self-reporting', she said.
Five instances of homophobia were reported between 2014 and May this year.
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Ms Cunningham told MPs that although one of the instances had been quite violent, Norwich was not a really homophobic place.
There have been no more reports since the spring.
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The Proud Canaries organiser said the change had come from 'bystanders who are just taking control of their match day experience'.
'They don't want to hear homophobic abuse. They don't want to hear that stuff,' she said. She also pointed out that often it was not just homophobic abuse being generated by the offenders, but other forms of abuse too. 'We have no bystanders at Norwich City, it is fantastic,' she added.
Asked later about homophobia on social media platforms, the Ms Cunningham said there had been some appalling tweets which amounted to hate speech, but the response had been heartening, and people responded to show that they would not tolerate it.
Earlier in the evidence session sports minister Tracey Crouch strongly criticised Football Association chairman Greg Clarke's comments about homophobia in the game and said there has 'never been a better time' for a gay player to come out.
Ms Crouch was giving her regular update to the culture, media and sport committee, the same group of MPs that Clarke spoke to in October when he told them 'it would be impossible for a gay Premier League player to come out'.
The FA chairman said he 'would be amazed' if there were not several gay players in England's top flight and admitted he felt 'ashamed' they did not feel confident enough to reveal their sexuality publicly because of the 'vile abuse' they would get back from a minority of fans.
But Crouch told the MPs that she found these comments to be 'incredibly disappointing' and 'strange'.
'We don't know if there is a player who is considering whether to come out at the moment but those comments say 'don't' and that is unhelpful,' she added.