Ryan Atkin says FIFA needs to give 'tougher sanctions' to fans shouting homophobic abuse

The openly gay referee said there have been massive changes in football but still more to do


Ryan Atkin thinks there needs to be “tougher sanctions” for fans shouting homophobic abuse during football matches.

FIFA has fined Mexico $10,000 for anti-gay chants made during the country’s match against Germany on June 17.

The governing body of football launched an investigation after Mexican fans began chanting “puto”, a homophobic term for a male prostitute, during the country's winning game.

And although Mexico fans were punished, it was the tenth time they have been fined during the World Cup period, and Ryan – who made history as the first openly gay referee – thinks the governing body needs to take more serious action.

While speaking on Lorraine today (June 28), Ryan said: “I think FIFA needs to take a clearer stance. I think when you are getting to the tenth time, I think that doesn’t give the message to the population who are supporting football, watch it or involved in it, so for me, I think there needs to be tougher sanctions given by FIFA.

“And FIFA and the governing bodies need to take it more seriously and at the moment they aren’t taking it seriously and I think that’s what needs to be addressed.”

On Monday, Ryan joined former Wales rugby star Gareth Thomas at the Houses of Parliament to amend the Football Offences Act 1991 to include homophobic chants and the referee claims there have been “massive changes” in the sport.

“I think we’ve seen massive changes in football and the culture and the media now are coming on board with the LGBT+ community especially within football itself,” he added.

“Obviously on Monday I was at the House of Parliament with Gareth Thomas around the Football Offences Act 1991 which include any comments of racial behaviour and now we are trying to amend the bill so that it includes any sort of homophobic chanting or gesturing which I think is a massive leap forward.

“It puts a good concrete base for people to build on now especially within the governing bodies of football.

“27 years ago – 1991 – you just think really is that the time period its taken to include something like this is statutory law and hopefully it will go through the House of Commons.”

Although he believes there have been massive changes in the sport, there is still not one player who openly identifies with the LGBT+ community and Ryan admitted there wont be any “general traction” until then.

He said: “There are great causes out there but we aren’t actually making any general traction and until you make the sport accepting then we’re not going to see these people being open about who they are and if you’re living a lie, you’re not living life.

“I feel very sorry for people who live in the shadows because they are afraid of who or what they are.”