Australia’s first gay soccer club, the Sydney Rangers, have called for fans of the Western Sydney Wanderers who recently displayed a homophobic banner to be banned from matches.
During Saturday’s A-League game at ANZ Stadium, members of the Wanderers supporters group the Red and Black Bloc (RBB) unfurled a sexually explicit banner featuring a man resembling Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold.
“It was very confronting,” said Rangers president Joseph Roppolo. “It instantly sends out a message that it’s okay to mock people based on sexuality.
“It shows a lack of education around the issues that affect LGBT people.
“We’re reaching out. We want to turn this negative situation into a positive. The way my club and I want to approach it is work with the FFA, Wanderers and Sydney FC to promote a message that is more proactive.
“But the time for talk is over. We need actions. We hope the FFA comes down strongly on these fans and institutes a one to two year ban as a line in the sand.”
The FFA has issued the Wanderers with a show-cause notice, calling the banner “offensive to any reasonable member of the public”.
The RBB slammed the action as “dictatorial”, and are considering merchandise with the banner’s image.
Roppolo said more action is needed to address homophobia in football.
“It’s tough for the players,” he said. “There’s not one openly gay [A-League] player in Australia.
“The FFA needs to be doing more to provide clarity for clubs and fans about how we address and deal with these issues when they happen.
“If this was a racist banner in Australia today, we have to ask would the FFA be acting more decisively and more quickly?”
The Rangers are concerned about the detriment to young people coming to terms with their sexual identity, with about 80 per cent of Australians in sport having witnessed homophobia.