Three fans were removed from the Amex Stadium and then arrested for “unacceptable abuse” during Brighton’s draw with Chelsea on New Year’s Day, the south coast club have announced.
Brighton have confirmed that two home fans and a Chelsea supporter were ejected from the stadium and later arrested following three unrelated incidents.
“Two home supporters and one visiting supporter were ejected from the Amex and subsequently arrested, for three separate incidents of unacceptable abuse during yesterday’s [Wednesday’s] match against Chelsea,” Brighton said in a statement.
“Yet again it is with regret that we report the ejection of two home supporters – one for racist abuse of Chelsea players and one for homophobic abuse aimed at Chelsea supporters.”
Brighton said one Chelsea fan was also removed by stewards for homophobic abuse aimed at home supporters.
“All three were arrested by Sussex Police outside the stadium and now face prosecution,” Brighton said.
On the same day, Huddersfield’s home Sky Bet Championship defeat to Stoke was interrupted by a tannoy announcement after visiting midfielder James McClean had allegedly been targeted by sectarian abuse.
Brighton chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber suggested it was now time for tougher sentences to be handed out by the courts for such offences.
Barber said: “Yet again our safety and stewarding team, along with Sussex Police, have had to deal with three separate and unwanted instances of disgusting racist and homophobic abuse.
“If the prospect of a life ban from watching their clubs play football isn’t a strong enough deterrent, we have to ask the question as to whether the courts should be given the power to hand out more severe punishments.
“Football can only do so much, and we are sick and tired of the game’s reputation being tarnished by these people.”
Barber said all forms of discrimination were unacceptable and urged Brighton fans to report any future incidents of abusive behaviour.
He added: “I find it impossible to comprehend how and why some individuals think it’s acceptable to behave in this way, and yet again I will make it very clear that neither Brighton & Hove Albion nor the wider football community will tolerate racism, homophobia, or any other form of discrimination at any time.
“We would urge any fans confronted with similar discriminatory behaviour at our stadium to report it immediately, either directly to a steward or via our anonymous hotline, and we will continue to take the strongest possible action against such bigoted individuals.
“These people are not welcome at the Amex or at any football matches.”