Leeds fans chanted 'Chelsea rentboy' at Conor Gallagher during rainbow laces match

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Conor Gallagher - Chelsea rent boy chants at Leeds - REUTERS
Conor Gallagher - Chelsea rent boy chants at Leeds - REUTERS

Leeds United have condemned “Chelsea Rentboy” chants aimed at Conor Gallagher during their Rainbow Laces game against Crystal Palace on Tuesday and will help anti-discrimination campaigners identify and punish homophobic fans.

Gallagher, on loan from Chelsea, was targeted in the first half just after he was booked while he walked to take a corner on the side of the pitch where the club’s LGBT+ group, Marching On Together, had a banner.

"We will liaise with Leeds and the football authorities to identify and hold accountable those responsible,” read a statement from anti-discrimination campaign Kick It Out. “It is frustrating and saddening to once again be discussing this chant as it is unquestionably homophobic and extremely offensive to the LGBTQ+ community, who make up such an important part of our game.”

Marching On Together also highlighted the steps the club took to promote the Rainbow Laces game which included players wearing T-shirts in the warm-up, Liam Cooper’s captain’s armband having the Pride colours and awareness on social media.

“The work we do with the club receives the support from the overwhelming majority of Leeds fans, who welcome inclusion and support for the LGBT+ community,” read a statement from the group.

“However, work still needs to be done, and unacceptable chanting can still occasionally be heard. The rent-boy chant last night is one example of that. It is unarguably homophobic and unacceptable at all times. We wrote a piece condemning the use of the rent boy chant and explaining why it is homophobic last year.

“It was certainly regrettable to hear last night - but the club’s ongoing powerful message of support for equality resonated much stronger on a night where we could celebrate that things are changing for the better in the game of football, when it comes to LGBT+ inclusion.”

Jurgen Klopp spoke out about homophobic abuse earlier in the season after Billy Gilmour was targeted while playing on loan at Norwich. The Liverpool manager took part in a lengthy discussion with Paul Amann, founder of Kops Out, which was broadcast by the club.

Leeds have described the chant as unacceptable, adding through a spokesperson: “Overall the support from Leeds United supporters at last night’s game with Crystal Palace was magnificent, once again the fans got behind the team and played a huge part in pushing the players on to get the late winner.

“However, we are aware of a homophobic chant directed at a Crystal Palace player and we want to be very clear that this is unacceptable.

“We will continue to work closely with Marching Out Together and all of our supporter groups to ensure that we do everything within our power to eradicate homophobia and any other form of discrimination from our football club.”

Liz Ward, director of programmes at Stonewall added: “It’s hugely disappointing that this is still happening, even in games dedicated to inclusion.”

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