Sheffield Wednesday: Southampton fan subject to homophobic abuse by Owls supporter 'looking for a fight'
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A Southampton football fan was subject to homophobic abuse by a Sheffield Wednesday supporter, leaving them in fear of being attacked, ahead of their 2023/24 season opener, it is claimed.
The alleged incident has been condemned by the club and the LGBTQ+ supporters group, Rainbow Owls, after a member of Southampton's Rainbow Saints supporters group was allegedly repeatedly met with discriminatory slurs.
Max Lindsay, the co-founder of Rainbow Saints, said after he and other group members separated from the Rainbow Owls group they met in the Pangolin Pub, they came into contact with some other Sheffield Wednesday fans..
Max said: "First these lads tried to send us the wrong way, despite us knowing the way already.
"Then, one of the lads noticed me and my pride shirt, which I wear to matches to be visible and show other fans I am a safe person to talk to.
"The lad turns to me and says 'what the f*** is that? It's f****** disgusting'."
The tirade then finished with the fan calling Max, who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a homophobic slur. The Owls fan is said to have told Max, using the same slur, it is because of LGBTQ+ fans that Southampton were relegated from the Premier League.
He said: "He was clearly looking for a fight."
Max believes the fan to have been drunk, saying they had encountered him earlier in the day, when he barged into another Saints fan - reportedly mistaking the red and white shirt as a Sheffield United kit.
After subjecting Max and his accomplices to the abuse, the fan reportedly returned to his friends further up the path, talking loudly about the Southampton fans behind them.
Max said: "It that moment it was like 'holy sh*t', because if they turn to us, we are outnumbered and in trouble."
He said the drunken man's friends thankfully seemed uninterested in his antics. However, Max said he was subject to further abuse on Twitter (or X) following the match - where he discussed what he had experienced in Sheffield.
He said: "We are expected to sit in the back and disappear into ourselves. We are here, we have always been here. I have been going to Southampton matches since I was three-years-old."
Rainbow Saints shared the details of the incident with Rainbow Owls, who passed them on to local authorities to investigate. Unfortunately, they were told South Yorkshire Police have been unable to take the matter further.
Owls fan and Rainbow Owls ambassador, Clive Betts MP, said: "This sort of behaviour is unacceptable in football and it has no place in the sport. On or off the pitch there should be an absolute zero tolerance to this kind of behaviour.
"These so called fans should be banned from all future games as they do not represent what this sport is about at all."
A spokesperson for Sheffield Wednesday told The Star that any fans "proven to be Sheffield Wednesday fans" that have posted or sent homophobic abuse online that meets a certain "threshold" - such as having their account removed by the social media platform, or being subject to police action - would be banned from Hillsborough Stadium for a minimum of three seasons.
This is the same punishment for fans who give out any homophobic, or other discriminatory abuse, within the ground. The minimum is a three-season ban and be extended up to a lifetime ban.
The spokesperson said: “Sheffield Wednesday roundly condemn all forms of discriminatory or abusive behaviour.
"We will not tolerate the actions of anyone proven to have undermined the robust work we undertake in addressing issues of inequality.”