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Ex-Albion star accused of homophobic abuse
A footballer is being investigated by police after furious fans claimed he made repeated homophobic gestures during a match.
The complaints were made about ex-Albion player Colin Kazim-Richards, who was playing for Blackburn FC at the Amex stadium on Tuesday evening (February 12).
Towards the end of the 1-1 draw, witnesses said they saw the 26-year-old make homophobic insults towards fans on “at least five” occasions near the West Lower stand.
Sussex Police football liaison officer PC Darren Balkham said he had received “numerous complaints” about the alleged abuse.
He said: “We will be investigating this fully and will be taking statements and looking through camera footage.
“Whether you are on the pitch or in the stands, Sussex Police takes any allegations of homophobic language or gestures seriously.”
Officers investigating the complaints against Kazim-Richards have contacted Lancashire Police, Albion and Blackburn FC for assistance.
A spokesman for the Football Association confirmed a number of complaints had been received and said they would be working with police to investigate what happened.
Albion fans are often subjected to homophobic chants by opposition fans due to Brighton and Hove’s reputation as the gay capital of the UK.
After Tuesday night’s game, scores of witnesses who saw the alleged gestures took to the internet to vent their fury.
One said: “I actually could not believe what I was witnessing from (Mr Kazim-Richards) tonight. It wasn’t even as if he lost his rag and did it once, it was repeated at least five times. I can’t personally see how anyone thinks gestures like that are acceptable but now it’s up to the authorities to look into it.”
Mr Kazim-Richards, who is an official campaigner for the anti-racism initiative Kick It Out, played for Albion for one season at the age of 18 in 2005-2006.
His contract was signed after an Albion fan won £250,000 for the club in a competition run by Coca-Cola – leading to Mr Kazim-Richards being dubbed the “Coca-Cola Kid”.
Lou Engelfield from the campaign group Football v Homophobia said it was “crucial” to rid the game of abuse.
She said: “Brighton fans have put up with this for too long. Regardless of what may or may not have happened on Tuesday night, it’s good to see people standing up and saying homophobia has no place in football.”
Blackburn FC were unavailable for comment.
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