Police made three arrests at a Liverpool v Chelsea match amid ongoing efforts to tackle homophobic chanting.
The three men were arrested at the draw between Liverpool and Chelsea on Saturday (January 21) at Anfield.
Merseyside Police have confirmed that in three separate incidents, two arrests took place outside the stadium on Anfield Road, and one inside the sports ground.
During the match an announcement was made over the tannoy reminding fans that homophobic chants such as “Chelsea rent boy” are a criminal offence. There were also reports of Liverpool fans chanting offensive songs about the Hillsborough disaster.
The men, aged 23, 37 and 49 years, were arrested on suspicion of homophobic intentional harassment alarm and distress.
The 37-year-old has been bailed pending further enquiries, and the 23-year and 49-year-old will attend a voluntary interview.
The force said it was also aware that 16 people were ejected from the stadium by stewards for various offences during the Premier League match.
Superintendent Paul Sutcliffe and match commander for the Liverpool vs Chelsea game, said: “Merseyside Police will not tolerate hate crime of any form, and we will bring to justice anyone found responsible for committing any offensive chanting.
“In this instance, if the three suspects are charged and found guilty for the offence, then we will we will be seeking football banning orders on them.”
He added: “It is vital that anyone who witnesses such an offence reports it to stewards or the police immediately, so we can take the necessary action.
“As with all matches, we work very closely with both clubs to ensure the safety of the public and the teams themselves.”
UK football has seen a worrying number of incidents of homophobia in football in 2023 already.
These arrests follow the offensive chants of ‘Chelsea rent boy’ – classed as homophobic hate speech – being heard at UK matches in recent weeks, with the FA announcing it will fine fans who use it at future games.
Another arrest was also made earlier this month after homophobic abuse was reported at the match between Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 11.
In 2022, Liverpool condemned alleged homophobic chanting aimed at then Norwich midfielder Billy Gilmour, who was on loan from Chelsea, during the Reds’ 3-0 win at Carrow Road.
The incident saw the FA say it is determined to drive the slur “rent boy” out of the sport.
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