A man who repeatedly shouted homophobic abuse at fans and players during a football match at the Amex Stadium in Brighton has been convicted in court. James Grainger-Brown, a 30-year-old bricklayer from Haywards Heath, was sitting in the away supporters section of the stadium when he made the offensive comments. He was reported to club stewards by fellow supporters, and at full time, supporters from the home section of the stadium also reported his comments. Stewards also heard his comments during the game.
Grainger-Brown admitted to using offensive words and behavior likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on April 20. The court heard that the offence was aggravated by homophobia. The incident happened during a match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Nottingham Forest on October 18 last year. Grainger-Brown was observed by stewards, so he switched places in the stand for the second half of the game but continued to shout homophobic abuse.
He was later detained by stewards and charged with the offence under the Public Order Act. The court ordered him to pay a £100 fine, £40 surcharge, and £85 costs. Grainger-Brown has also been issued with a Football Banning Order for three years, which restricts his access to attending professional football matches in England.
Dedicated Football Policing Officer PC Darren Balkham said: “Grainger-Brown used abusive language which caused distress to other people in the stadium, including his fellow supporters who reported him to stewards.
“Homophobia has been a continuing theme I have encountered during my 24 years of service at football events.
“Sadly a minority of football supporters perceive this kind of abuse as simply a type of ‘banter’.
“It means that football supporters often do not feel empowered to report these incidents.
“But attitudes are changing and unacceptable behaviour is being challenged. Brighton and Hove Albion and the FA both have policies in place to tackle homophobic chanting and respond to incidents.
“We are pleased this incident was reported to us. This case demonstrates that homophobic chanting has no place in our stadiums or in the game of football itself.”
A Brighton and Hove Albion club spokesperson said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach on all forms of anti-social behaviour, and this includes any form of abuse.
“We worked closely with Sussex Police to identify and prosecute the individual concerned and we welcome the guilty verdict from the courts.”