Brighton chief executive Paul Barber called the abuse “disgusting" and urged supporters to report wrongdoing at the stadium. “If the prospect of a life ban from watching their clubs play football isn’t a strong enough deterrent, we have to ask the question as to whether the courts should be given the power to hand out more severe punishments?" Barber said in a statement on Thursday. "Football can only do so much, and we are sick and tired of the game’s reputation being tarnished by these people.
“I find it impossible to comprehend how and why some individuals think it's acceptable to behave in this way.” Brighton held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday. During a second division game on New Year's Day, an announcement was made in Huddersfield warning fans to stop offensive behavior after sectarian abuse was allegedly aimed at Stoke player James McClean.
McClean, an Ireland international, applauded when the announcement was made. “People have to be held accountable for their behavior when they come to a stadium,” said Stoke manager Michael O'Neill, who previously coached Northern Ireland. “It's not something we want to be consistently talking about — sectarianism or racism or whatever.”