Ban homophobic fans for life – Owens

Date published: November 13 2014

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Leading referee Nigel Owens has called for homophobic rugby supporters to be banned from the sport in order to send a message.

Leading referee Nigel Owens has called for homophobic rugby supporters to be banned from the sport in order to send a message.

A letter to the Guardian earlier this week from a shocked supporter who attended England’s match with the All Blacks at Twickenham highlighted a “hurling of such nasty, foul-mouthed, racist, homophobic abuse at an openly gay match official”.

Owens has now urged the RFU consider issuing a life ban to any supporters found guilty of similarly serious abuse at matches.

“If someone has gone to the trouble to send a letter to the paper and say that this was disgusting and the behaviour was totally out of order, then I would think what they shouted was pretty bad and if that is the case then these people should be banned from the game,” Owens told the Telegraph.

“They need to be told that some behaviour is not acceptable, that crossing the line of what is humour and banter is a fine line but if you cross it then you have to put up with the consequences.”

Owens admitted that the volume of messages and comments he had seen had made him consider his own future in the sport, despite being regarded as arguably the game’s leading official.

“What has become more evident is that while we may not be so aware of it on the field, I think we become more aware of it now through social media,” added Owens.

“When you see things that are tweeted by so-called rugby supporters about opposition teams and some of the tweets that I have had, you begin thinking ‘bloody hell, are these type of people really in our game?’

“I have had homophobic tweets and messages on Facebook from people who are shouting things that I could not repeat in your newspaper.

“It is creeping into the game and some of the tweets I have had are pretty nasty, really.

“Sometimes you get these comments and read these tweets and you think ‘do I really need this? Do I really need to do this job?’ It does get you down and I honestly think sometimes like saying ‘enough is enough, I will walk away from it all’.

“But then you get support from people and it makes you realise these are the minority and you have to pick yourself up and rise above it. It is not always easy to do that but you have to do it and get on.”

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