The Los Angeles Football Club announced it will have an improved and heavier security presence to combat an anti-gay slur that is sometimes shouted by soccer fans during goal kicks at stadiums throughout the world beginning with Sunday's season opener.
The improved security effort includes staff members trained and dedicated to exclusively dealing with this issue, according to Seth Burton, LAFC's vice president of communications.
Any fans identified as participating in offensive chanting or other prohibited acts will be removed from the stadium permanently. Season ticket holders will have their membership revoked, Burton said.
LAFC, its 3252 Independent Supporters Union and GLAAD are joining forces in an effort to ensure what the Major League Soccer club describes as "an inclusive, welcoming and safe experience for all fans" at the team's games at Banc of California Stadium.
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LAFC created a video that will be played before and during matches in an effort to ensure that everyone who attends a match will have a safe, fun experience free of homophobia, transphobia, racism or sexism.
In the video, coach Bob Bradley and several players in different languages offer a message that reads, "Our club is for everyone. Stand with us, shoulder to shoulder, to create the best atmosphere in MLS. Stop the hateful chant during goal kicks. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and discrimination will not be tolerated in our stadium. Together, let's win in the stands."
Anti-gay slurs on goal kicks began at Banc of California Stadium during the first game on Apr. 29, 2018. The following day, LAFC announced fans who shouted the slur would be ejected from the stadium and have their season tickets revoked.
"Last season, we were disappointed and upset that the chant resurfaced at our stadium,'' LAFC President and co-owner Tom Penn and Jimmy Lopez, president of the 3252, said in a joint statement released Sunday.
"We pledged at that time to take steps to eliminate the chant from our games, and we are thankful to work with GLAAD and our fans and Supporters to hold each other accountable. We believe that our more robust and educated security presence will help create an experience we can all be proud of."
The slur made "LGBTQ and ally fans" feel "less than" welcome at LAFC games, said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, which bills itself as the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer media advocacy organization.
"With this new campaign, the LAFC has raised the bar for inclusion and we hope that other teams nationwide and Major League Soccer will follow their lead by taking proactive steps to create safe and inclusive stadiums."