Hundreds of stewards at King Power Stadium are set to receive training on how to cope with LGBT, homophobia and other hate crimes.
A meeting took place recently between Leicester City bosses and Andrew Bolland of Leicester’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) Centre in Wellington Street.
Andrew, strategic development and partnerships manager at the centre, told the Mercury he expected the training to take place in August or September.
He said: “They contacted us asking if we were able to support them in the training of their stewards. We had a meeting to discuss their needs. It was our first contact with the club so it’s a very positive step.”
He said he hoped the King Power Stadium stewards, who number about 250 in total, would benefit from help deciding when normal banter on the terraces reached a stage where action needed to be taken.
He said: “The training Leicester City are looking for is to increase their stewards’ capacity to understand the nature of possible hostility and respond in the best manner.
“The big issue is when to take action. It’s almost impossible to articulate when banter turns into hostility and from there into a hate crime.
“There are maybe times when offensive language isn’t upsetting for the people it’s directed at but is being heard by children and so stewards should take action.
“It’s not for me to tell the club’s stewards what they should do about it but when it might be appropriate to act.
“The nature of crowds can put sensibilities and equality to one side and people can lose their sense of moral duty.”
He said it could be hard for people who are not from the LGBT community to understand how offensive certain language could be.
He said: “Words can have a disproportionate effect on someone if they have been suffering abuse over a lifetime.
“A lot of our work here is about supporting people who have suffered from that sort of offensive behaviour.”
Before the steward training begins, Andrew will be speaking with members of the LGBT fan group, Foxes Pride. However, he said as a hate crime reporting centre, he was not aware of any anecdotal evidence homophobia was a problem among Leicester City fans at the King Power Stadium. He said: “I hope that will continue.”
A Leicester City spokesman said: “We are committed to creating a passionate, inclusive, welcoming environment at the King Power Stadium, in which everyone is free to enjoy the matchday experience.
“We aim to further educate our staff in best practice and to continue to encourage a culture of football for all.
“Our thanks go to the Leicester LGBT Centre and to the Foxes Pride group.”
Source: Leicester Mercury