Sussex Police to hunt down gay-slur Palace fans
12:40pm Monday 18th March 2013
By Bill Gardner and Anna Roberts
Sussex Police have vowed to hunt down Crystal Palace fans who chanted homophobic slogans before and after yesterday’s derby clash.
More than 100 fans from the London club hurled anti-gay taunts at passers-by and set off smoke bombs as they were marched up West Street and Queen's Road in Brighton by police before the game.
The chants continued during and after the match as rival fans squared off outside American Express Community Stadium.
Officers wore body cameras to capture the scenes on film.
A record crowd of 28,499 fans packed into the Amex to watch a rampaging Albion team thrash their bitter rivals 3-0.
After the match Seagulls manager Gus Poyet: “This is a day to stop time and stay here forever. I’d like to finish a season like this.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police said officers were aware there had been homophobic taunts hurled at Albion supporters.
He said: “Officers were deployed with body-worn video and if any offences are identified including homophobic chanting those responsible will be identified.”
More than 350 police officers were involved in the operation, about 100 more than were involved in last season’s fixture.
There were minor scuffles outside the stadium before the game when rival sets of fans tried to break through police lines.
Officers in riot gear and mounted police pushed back the troublemakers before they could reach each other.
But police hailed the day as a “great success” with only five arrests made – three Brighton and Hove Albion fans and two Crystal Palace supporters.
A 31-year-old Eastbourne man and a 19-year-old Brighton man were arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly while a 40-year-old Brighton man was arrested on suspicion of possessing cocaine.
A 36-year-old Crystal Palace fan from south Croydon was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence – swearing – at Falmer Station.
A second Palace fan, an 18-year-old from Surrey, was arrested on suspicion of spitting of people from a bridge.
Chief Inspector Paul Betts, of Sussex Police, said: “There was a small number of potential flashpoints between rival groups of fans at Brighton and Falmer stations, but these involved a small minority and we were able to deal with them very quickly.
“I should like to thank supporters from both sides who heeded appeals from the clubs, supporters’ groups and the police to enjoy the game in a spirit of rivalry, not violence.
“Today has shown that Albion versus Palace matches can be played without the disorder that has taken place in recent years.”
See more Albion news in The Argus sport section.
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