Charities 'shocked' as King's Lynn Town Football Club faces offensive chanting claim
WARNING – This article contains language which some readers may find offensive.
King's Lynn Town fans have come under fire over claims of offensive chanting during a match at the Walks.
Disability rights campaigners have expressed their shock at an allegation that the word "spastics" was used in a chant during the Linnets' fixture with Eastleigh last month.
The club says it is investigating and has appealed to fans to back the team in a "positive" manner when the new season begins.
Eastleigh supporter Stewart Hall made a written complaint to Lynn following the sides' 3-3 draw on April 30 – a result that confirmed Lynn's relegation from the National League.
He claimed a chant containing the slur was directed towards visiting fans by Lynn supporters, with neither stewards nor police intervening to stop it.
The chant was also heard during another recent fixture at the Walks.
Mr Hall, who is a full-time carer for his wife who is disabled and has dementia, said he was "extremely upset" by what he heard.
He said: "I've been to upwards of 70 grounds and I've never, ever heard this anywhere else.
"It doesn't just affect Eastleigh supporters. It affects every single support in the stadium."
He believes many of the supporters involved in the chant were young and said he would be willing to talk to supporters' groups in a bid to raise understanding of the offensive nature of the term.
King's Lynn Town confirmed it had received a complaint of "abusive chanting" in a statement released on its website yesterday.
It continued: "The club are conducting investigations and have been in discussions with Level Playing Field. A further update will be issued once all investigations are concluded.
"We ask our fans and the people of the town, to get behind the team in a positive, supportive manner now and when the new season begins."
A spokesman for Level Playing Field, a charity which promotes the rights of disabled sports fans, said the group would be seeking an update on the club's investigation this week and those responsible should be dealt with "appropriately".
He added: "Watching live sport should be available for all and inclusive. The use of negative discriminatory language can act as a barrier for existing fans who experience it and potential fans who hear about it."
James Taylor, director of strategy for the disability equality charity Scope, said they were “shocked and horrified” by the use of what he described as “dangerous” language.
He added: “This offensive language is not harmless banter, it underpins the negative attitudes and discrimination that disabled people face every day.
“Negative attitudes impact every area of a person's life, from going to the football, to finding employment or being included in their community.
“We need to see a fairer society for disabled people, and that includes treating people with respect.
“Everyone can help to combat these negative attitudes by speaking out when they hear offensive language being used to refer to disabled people.”