Batley rugby league bans fan over homophobic abuse

Keegan Hirst
Keegan Hirst

A SUPPORTER has been banned for life by a rugby league club after homophobic abuse of a player.

Batley Bulldogs, who play in the Kingstone Press Championship, said the fan had abused one of the club’s players, Keegan Hirst, and actor Anthony Cotton on social media.

A club spokesman said: “Since Keegan publicly confirmed his sexual orientation we have been delighted by the response and support he has been given by everybody at the Club and indeed throughout our sport.

“This is the first and hopefully the last time we witness such unpleasantness.”

Mr Hirst, 28, who is Batley born, was the first rugby league player to come out as gay.

Mr Cotton, a Coronation Street actor, is a regular at Batley matches.

The Bulldogs spokesman said: “Since Keegan publicly confirmed his sexual orientation we have been delighted by the response and support he has been given by everybody at the Club and indeed throughout our sport.

“This is the first and hopefully the last time we witness such unpleasantness.

“He will shortly be leaving to take up a full-time career with Wakefield having given great service to the Club. We want him to feel welcome whenever he chooses to come to the Club. His friend, Anthony Cotton has been a regular visitor to the Club as a rugby league fan. We also want him to be treated like every other rugby league fan and be welcomed and feel at home and comfortable at our Stadium.

“There is no place in our sport for homophobic abuse or indeed any abuse and we wish to send out a clear message that if you engage in such behavior we do not want you to attend our stadium.

“We as a Club want to continue to welcome EVERYBODY to our home, whether as a player, official or supporter and whether from Batley or anywhere else.

“We want everyone to enjoy being at the Club which clearly means we have to prevent individuals who challenge this approach from making any of our friends feel uncomfortable in any way or offending them.

“Clearly, we have no control over such behaviour on social media or indeed anywhere else, but we have control over our Club environment. We hope this makes the position of the Club on this issue clear and we have no more such incidents.”

Kevin Nicholas.

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