During a moment of silence for the Dutch great Johan Cruyff before kick-off, a number of Barcelona fans were heard chanting insults directed at the Portuguese captain and Real Madrid, including “Cristiano, maricón” (in English, “Cristiano, faggot”).
LGBT rights groups in Spain promptly reacted to the abuse, calling on the Spanish government to act upon the case.
Observatorio Español contra la LGTBfobia and Fare member COLEGAS President Paco Ramírez said: “It is difficult to understand double standards to mesure and punish intolerance in sport. There is immediate action when it comes to racism and xenophobic incidents, but homophobia, the most common form of discrimination currently, is ignored.
“The Real Madrid player Ronaldo has been the victim of insults and malicious rumours for months” Ramírez, “it is evident that fans are using sexual orientation with the aim of insulting, humiliating and degrading players.”
The homophobic chants were not included in the referee’s report on the game and neither Ronaldo nor his club have spoken about the issue.
The President of COLEGAS also criticised the silence of Fútbol Club Barcelona on the incident calling it “hypocritical” after having signed in May 2015 signed a protocol to fight homophobia with several LGTB organisations. He also called on Spanish professional league La Liga to create an anti-discrimation protocol that includes homophobia and procedures to follow up these incidents.
La Liga join the condemnation
The incident has led to an outcry in Spain. On Tuesday La Liga announced it will send a report to Spanish Football Association (RFEF) commissions of anti-violence and competitions on the anti-gay slurs against Ronaldo and insulting chants against Real Madrid.
Following the announcement, the Catalonian LGBT organisation Observatorio contra la Homofobia de Cataluña (OCH) reported the incident to the Generalitat, the region’s government, asking the governing body to open proceedings and take all the necessary measures to address the incident.
Eugeni Rodríguez, President of OCH, said: “This enthusiastic way of showing homophobic hatred is very serious, shameful and humiliating and the articles 4 and 5 of the Generalitat law exist to protect the victims and prevent homophobic behaviour.”
Widespread homophobia in Spanish football
Over the recent years, Spanish LGBT rights campaigners have expressed their increasing concerns on the extend of the problem in Spanish football.
In March, Spain’s only openly gay referee was subjected to homophobic abuse at a regional league match in Andalusia. In an interview Tomillero told how the kit man of the local team persistently shouted homophobic insults at him for over 45 minutes. He also denounced the lack of action of the stadium delegate, who refused to call and report the incident to the police.
After the match Tomillero was the victim of threatens to not disclose the happenings, but the incident has since been reported by the Fare member Arco Iris Federación Andaluza LGBTI to prosecutors.
On Monday, the group called for an urgent meeting with the President of the Andalusian Football Federation to work together on interventions to address homophobia.
On the incident ALEAS, el Área de Libertad de Expresión Afectivo-Sexual de Izquierda Unida, said: “We cannot underestimate such incidents. Sport has become a very important medium to pass on values and promote personal development. Football in particular is more than just a sport, is an event with great potential to promote positive values or, in this case, to wrongly prepetrate intolerant behaviour towards referees, fans and players.”
On Sunday, 4 April, a video emerged of incidents at the amateur game between C.P. Losareño and la A.D. Serradilla Es Monfragüe, where the match referee was also subjected to homophobic abuse. Three players were handed a match ban by the Football Federation of Extremadura, who is still assessing the evidence.
In January 2015 Deportivo La Coruña supporters sang homophobic chants targeting Bacelona midfielder Rafinha, later in May a Cádiz fan was banned from entering the stadium for carrying an LGBT flag.
On 10 April, Federación Arco Iris will organise a series of actions in support of the 21 year-old referee in partnership Cádiz C.F and Sevilla Atlético. These include an exhibition on sexual diversity in sport, before the match kick-off an anti-homophobia manifesto will be read, players will show cards with rainbow colours, while on the stands fans will display balloons coloured balloons.