Paris - Lens fans who again aimed a French slang word for gay at opponents
insisted on Tuesday that they didn't "think the words could wound" and
that they were the victims of a "media buzz".
On Monday a court in Bethune in northern France opened an
investigation into chants it described as "provocative and possibly
homophobic" at a Ligue 2 match between Lens and local rival Valenciennes
The French league's disciplinary commission will examine the case on Wednesday.
The investigations follow a video released by Rouge Direct, a gay
football collective, that shows the cheerleader, or 'capo', of the Red
Tigers group of ultras, starting a chant aimed at Valenciennes players
containing a widely used French insult often aimed at gay men.
On Tuesday, the fans responded, through a spokesman, that they had been misunderstood but that they supported their capo.
"In our stand, nobody has been, or will be, categorised by gender,
sexual orientation, origins, colour or religion," Pierre Revillon,
spokesperson for the Red Tigers, told AFP. "Being a Lens supporter is
enough for us.
"We will remain behind the capo, who had no nasty intentions when he
started the chant which was taken up by the whole stand, who did not
think the words could wound and harm the homosexual community.
"You've heard these chants in every stadium in France for years," he said.
Revillon added that the Lens ultras were "dismayed by the attitude
and methods" of Rouge Direct and "bodies that classify without
understanding and without making the effort to understand the history
and culture of our terraces," Revillon said.
"We refuse to be insulted as homophobes and we do not want to serve
as an example," he said, adding that Lens fans "invite the Rouge Direct
collective to come to see us and talk with us in the stands, something
they should have done before embarking on a media buzz that makes us
look like people we are not".
Lens later issued a statement which said the Red Tigers cheerleader had agreed to step aside until further notice.
"The stands at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis have always advocated
open-mindedness and fought against all forms of discrimination," the
club added, inviting Rouge Direct to attend a Lens game "to observe the
friendly, respectful and festive atmosphere in the ground".