Homophobia in French football: Why is it happening?

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Marseille supporters hold up banners with messages against homophobiaWarning: This article contains language some readers may find offensive.It was a minute that has changed the face of French football.Referee Mehdi Mokhtari stopped play in the Ligue 2 game at Nancy on 16 August not for a foul, but for homophobic abuse from the home fans, which rang around the Stade Marcel Picot on the half-hour mark.The target was not that evening’s opponents, Le Mans, but rather Metz, who are Nancy’s Ligue 1 neighbours in the Lorraine region.A stadium announcement for supporters to stop using the chant – “les Messins, les messins, c’est des pedes”, which translates as “people from Metz, people from Metz, they’re faggots” – went unheeded.So Mokhtari took action, stopping the game for some 60 seconds.”It’s a first,” France’s Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu posted on social media. “And the last, I hope.”Her wish has not been granted.To date, 18 matches are being investigated by the LFP, the French Football League. A number of games have been interrupted, including the Nice-Marseille match on 28 August and the Brest-Reims encounter four days earlier. Some top-flight clubs, including Marseille and Lille, have been given a dressing down for the behaviour of their fans.Maracineanu is at the heart of the initiative. At a Paris St-Germain v Marseille game last April, she was horrified by insults

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