Irish bookmaker Paddy Power issued an apology last week for sharing a video in which a fan used homophobic slur which prompted fierce backlash from the queer football community. The video is a weekly round-up of fans’ comments on social media about the FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea.
Fan Derogatory Language Spurred Reactions
In an attempt to engage with football fans, every Monday throughout the football season Paddy Power posts ‘Fan Denial’, seeking to shine a light on the ridiculous ways fans express online their disappointment from defeat. Reactions usually vary from sublime to ridiculous, but last week’s selection of twitter posts included one tweet which used the words “salty rent boys” and its inclusion was a mistake, Paddy Power admitted in the apology.
“We are very sorry for any offence caused before it was removed. We are reviewing our approval processes on content produced by third parties to ensure content on our platform is in line with our values as a brand – we are very proud of the work we have done around LGBTQ+ issues, and intend to continue being Allies to the community.”Paddy Power
As soon as the comment was brought to the attention of the bookmaker, the video was deleted, due to the derogatory and offensive language the sports betting operator does not condone. Nevertheless, the damage from the video has already been done, prompting fierce response from some organizations.
Kick it Out, an organization seeking to promote inclusion in football, was the one that signaled the bookmaker to remove the homophobic language video from its social media channels.
“An advert like this is designed to provoke and does nothing to further inclusion in football. All it will do is encourage people to keep using this hideous language, not just on social media but in matches too.”Sanjay Bhandari, Chairman, Kick It Out
Gay Gooners, a group of LGBT+ Arsenal fans, also poured scorn on Paddy Power’s actions, sending an e-mail to Paddy Power CEO Peter Jackson, stressing the necessity for industry leaders to call out on every such occasion when discriminatory language and behavior takes place.
“We know homophobic language fuels the toxic atmosphere that often makes loyal LGBTQ+ fans feel unwelcome at football. By including that particular tweet, Paddy Power undermines its own work in challenging homophobia within sport as well as that of groups such as ourselves and our colleagues through Pride in Football.”Gay Gooners
Chelsea Pride, the fan group of LGBT+ supporters of the football club from Stamford Bridge, also expressed its disappointment at the inclusion of the video in the weekly round-up, as it perpetuates the idea that such banter is acceptable in football, while it is not.