League bosses have launched a probe after claims ‘abhorrent’ homophobic abuse was aimed at players in a Scots LGBTQ team by opposing players during a match.
Saltire Thistle took on Ashfield Star in the cup semi final for the Glasgow Community and Cooperative League at Huntershill Community Sports Hub in Bishopbriggs on Sunday.
But the tie was allegedly marred by Ashfield players calling Thistle stars ‘p**fs’ and ‘fa**ts’ amid other abuse which reportedly include a player being punched within minutes of kick off.
Thistle brands themselves as ‘Scotland’s inclusive team’ and were formed for LGBTQ people and their allies promising to welcome players ‘no matter their gender identity, sexuality or race.’
They play with the LGBTQ rainbow on their strips and are calling for Ashfield to be expelled from the league.
A statement from Saltire Thistle issued following the game read: “We have submitted a formal complaint to the GCCL committee regarding the abhorrent homophobic abuse our players were subjected to by members of Ashfield Star FC last weekend during our victory in the Simon Community Cup Semi Final.
“As a result, our league game against Ashfield Star FC, due to be played this weekend, is postponed pending the investigation outcome.
“We will instead celebrate our diverse club with a Saltire v Thistle intra-club friendly.
“We would like to extend our thanks to the many other teams who have made clear their support to us during this time.
“We will make no further comment until after the investigation is over.
“Love will always win.”
Thistle chairman Stuart Bonner said that many people who had only recently come to terms with their sexual or gender identity played for the team, making the abuse all the more ‘shocking’.
He added that he would never field players against Ashfield again and was calling for their expulsion.
He said: “Saltire Thistle was created in 2012 for members of the LGBTQ community and their allies so we advertise ourselves as an inclusive club.
“We have players of all abilities, all gender identities, all sexualities and ages.
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“Our core action is to fight discrimination in Scottish football and we’re very proud that we’re owned, run and governed by members of the LGBT community.
“We are pretty much the only place in Glasgow you can play football and proudly be part of our community.
“We play regularly against other teams with similar motives – for example a refugee team, or a team that supports people with mental health issues.”
He added: “The abuse we suffered last Sunday was sustained for the full 90 minutes. The homophobia included words like ‘f***ot’ and ‘p**f’, that sort of thing.
“One of our players punched in the neck in the fifth minute and that continued throughout.
“In this league we are in it is not a regular thing to receive this sort of abuse, which almost makes it more upsetting.
“We have asked the league to carry out an investigation and I certainly won’t accept any less than complete expulsion from the league.
“We don’t want to see this team again. I can’t put my players at risk.”
Player Matthew Gaffney also shared claims of the abuse.
He said: “We received constant homophobic abuse.
“I have played the beautiful game for several years and I have never experienced this level of aggression towards gay players.
“I would like their club to be held responsible for their behaviour towards the LGBTIQQ community and apologise. “
Saltire Thistle website states: “When you join Saltire Thistle FC, you’re not just playing football. You’re joining a family that accepts everyone, no matter their gender identity, sexuality or race.
“We’re Scotland’s Inclusive Club, created for members of the LGBTQ+ family and our only joining requirement is that you support the community, whether as a member yourself or as an ally.”
Saltire went on to win the game 2-1.
The league committee said in a statement: “We can confirm an investigation into the matter is taking place.
“We won’t be making any further comment until the investigation is complete in full.”
Police Scotland were not involved.
Ashfield Star was contacted for comment.