FFF head: Stop games over racist but not homophobic chants

Noel Le Graet, President of the French Football Federation (FFF), prior to the FIFA World Cup 2018 semi final soccer match between France and Belgium in St.Petersburg, Russia, 10 July 2018.

File: Noel Le Graet, President of the French Football Federation (FFF) said games should be stopped if racist chants are being sung but not if homophobic chants are.


PARIS - French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet told a radio station that he supported referees stopping matches in the event of racist chants - but not homophobic ones, in comments that drew criticism on Tuesday.

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The FFF introduced new rules this season enabling referees to interrupt play in the event of any such incident.

"We will make sure there are no more (homophobic banners and chants). But stopping a game? - No," Le Graet told French radio France Info.

"I would not stop the games - totally against this."

Asked if referees would follow his request in this weekend's matches, Le Graet said: "I hope so".

He added, however, that he would stop a game in the event of racist chants.

"I would stop a match if there are racist chants, that is clear," he said.

Jeremy Faledam, the president of the SOS Homophobie association, expressed dismay at the distinction Le Graet appeared to make between the two offences.

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"It's unsettling. He makes a hierarchy between racism and homophobia, which are two types of discrimination that need to be fought just the same," Faledam said.

Several Ligue 1 matches have been briefly interrupted by referees this season because of homophobic chants in the stands, in accordance with new rules the FFF enforced this season.

The president does not have the authority to instruct referees to go against the new rules.

The rules were publicly supported by sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who last week said she was "astonished" by previous comments from Le Graet that "too many matches" had been stopped because of incidents of homophobia.