Police arrested seven Millwall fans during Brighton’s 2v2 draw last night – with a number coming as a direct result of homophobic comments.
Scuffles between rival fans broke out on public transport and Albion fans reported being on the receiving end of highly offensive homophobia – on the very night both Brighton and Millwall publicly signed up to an FA charter designed to tackle discrimination in the sport.
A spokesman for Sussex Police confirmed eye witness reports that tensions were running high in the away end of the American Express Community Stadium and that additional officers were dispatched to that part of the ground during the half time interval to support the club’s stewards.
During the break an altercation took place between a Millwall supporter and a member of kiosk staff which resulted in a brief disturbance, during which an officer used Captor spray.
Three people were arrested as a result of this incident and police say order was quickly restored with nobody injured seriously.
And discussing the homophobic chanting, the force spokesman told the Herald, “Police are aware of some homophobic comments made by away fans and some of the arrests were made as a result of homophobic chanting or comments made to Brighton supporters. “Sussex Police is committed to tackling hate crime and encourages anyone who has been a victim of hate crime to come forward.”
Police will now study CCTV footage from the match and surrounding area together with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police before deciding whether or not any further arrests will be made.
Police confirmed the following details about those arrested:
A 23-year-old man from Wallington, Surrey, was arrested in the South Stand on suspicion of assaulting police. He remains in custody this afternoon.
A 40-year-old man from London was arrested in the South Stand on suspicion of common assault. He has been bailed until 16/3 pending further enquiries.
A 26-year-old man from Beckenham was arrested in the South Stand on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly. He remains in custody this afternoon.
A 20-year-old man from London was arrested and issued a fixed penalty notice for using threatening words or behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress.
A 32-year-old man of no fixed address was arrested on suspicion of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of or provoke unlawful violence and assaulting a police officer. He has been bailed until March 16 pending further enquiries.
An 18-year-old man from London was arrested on suspicion of Section 4 public order offence and has been bailed until March 16 pending further enquiries.
A 19-year-old man from Welling, Kent, was arrested and issued with a fixed penalty notice for using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
Reports this morning also suggest Millwall fans caused damage to the toilets at the stadium.
The total attendance at the Championship game was almost 19,000 – including more than 2,000 from Millwall.