Soccer-French federation head: Stop games over racist chants - but not homophobic ones

Credit: REUTERS/Fred Lancelot

French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet told a radio station that he supported referees stopping matches in the event of racist chants - but not homophobic ones, in comments that drew criticism on Tuesday.

Adds details, reaction

PARIS, Sept 10 (Reuters) - French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet told a radio station that he supported referees stopping matches in the event of racist chants - but not homophobic ones, in comments that drew criticism on Tuesday.

The FFF introduced new rules this season enabling referees to interrupt play in the event of any such incident.

"We will make sure there are no more (homophobic banners and chants). But stopping a game? - No," Le Graet told French radio France Info.

"I would not stop the games - totally against this."

Asked if referees would follow his request in this weekend's matches, Le Graet said: "I hope so".

He added, however that he would stop a game in the event of racist chants.

"I would stop a match if there are racist chants, that is clear," he said.

Jeremy Faledam, the president of the SOS Homophobie association, expressed dismay at the distinction Le Graet appeared to make between the two offences.

"It's unsettling. He makes a hierarchy between racism and homophobia, which are two types of discrimination that need to be fought just the same," Faledam said.

Several Ligue 1 matches have been briefly interrupted by referees this season because of homophobic chants in the stands, in accordance with new rules the FFF enforced this season.

The president does not have the authority to instruct referees to go against the new rules.

The rules were publicly supported by sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who last week said she was "astonished" by previous comments from Le Graet that "too many matches" had been stopped because of incidents of homophobia.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

((julien.pretot@thomsonreuters.com; +33149495370;))

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