Two boys were arrested on suspicion of making homophobic comments during the Manchester City v Burnley football game on Saturday (16 October).
As well as the two teenagers, a third man in his 20s was apprehended by police at Etihad Stadium during the Premier League match. Greater Manchester Police said this arrest was a ‘separate incident’, on suspicion of a breach of the peace and police assault.
No further details were given about the precise ages of each boy or which team they support.
All three were held in custody for questioning over Saturday night and could now face possible football banning orders as well as criminal charges.
Match commander for the event, chief inspector Jamie Collins, emphasised that “the majority of fans attending [last Saturday’s] match behaved in an exemplary manner,” adding that he “thanked” those people.
He continued: “We work closely with Manchester City Football Club to promote good behaviour at matches and to identify anyone who commits a criminal offence.
“I want to send a clear message to anyone attending football matches intent on engaging in abusive and threatening behaviour that it will not be tolerated.
“GMP officers will take positive action against those using homophobic or racist language and that is what my officers have done at today’s fixture.”
He emphasised that the “strongest action” will be taken towards anyone who engages in this kind of abusive or discriminatory behaviour at games, “including banning those fans from attending future football matches”.
“Our top priority is the safety and well-being of the fans, staff and players,” Collins continued. “We want fans to be able to enjoy matches without the experience being ruined by a small number of people.”
City won the game 2-0, with goals from Bernado Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
Homophobic and racist abuse is a recurring issue within football, with London’s Met Police forced to increase their numbers at Wembley City last Tuesday (12 October) due to concerns over possible racist abuse during the England v Hungary game.
More recently a gay Premier League footballer revealed he is in therapy over crippling fears that football fans on opposing teams will “crucify” him for being gay should he come out.