Pompey back Campbell in Spurs' chants row

September 30, 2008

Portsmouth have promised skipper Sol Campbell they will support him if he wants action to be taken against Tottenham fans who verbally abused him when they visited Fratton Park last weekend.

It is not yet clear whether Campbell will ask Pompey to step up pressure on the authorities to deal with the abuse he received from a section of Spurs fans seven years after he left White Hart Lane for bitter rivals Arsenal.

Campbell's options, though, appear to be limited after the police, who were in charge of security for the Barclays Premier League fixture, passed on their own complaints about the chanting fans to the Football Association.

The police urged the governing body to deal with the issue in an "appropriate manner'' only for the FA to respond and claim to was a police matter.

Portsmouth's media and communications director Gary Double confirmed the club have no plans to press the FA into making charges against Tottenham, and said: "We will stand up for Sol and respect anything he wants us to do, although our feeling is it is simply a matter for the police and the FA.''

Yesterday, Hampshire Police revealed they had contacted the FA and urged them to address their complaints about obscene and homophobic chanting directed at Campbell, but also admitted they made no arrests at the game despite behaviour that clearly transgressed laws regarding public disorder issues.

They claimed that was because it was happening on such a large scale they feared dangerous reprisals could follow any police action against individuals at that time.

An FA spokesperson said: "The only action we can take is against participants of the game such as clubs, players and officials.

"The FA has no jurisdiction to take action against individuals. If the police, who were at the game, have evidence of any abusive chanting we would expect action to be taken by them as it is a public order offence.

"Tottenham have taken initiatives in the past to combat homophobic chanting, which we fully supported.

"Moving forward, the FA will look to work with the clubs and police to do all we can to eradicate this behaviour from the game. It has no place in football.

"The FA recognises that football has a duty to challenge all discrimination within the game and our aim is to confront aggressive issues and obscene chanting and abuse.

"We take these matters seriously and will investigate any alleged case we are made aware of, taking action where necessary.''

But it seems clear the simple option of punishing Spurs with a fine for failing to control the behaviour of their away fans is seen by both clubs and the FA as futile and unjust.

A Tottenham spokesman said: "We do not tolerate racist, homophobic or obscene chanting at White Hart Lane and we have clamped down on it.

"We are now waiting for a full report from Portsmouth to hear how this matter was dealt with at Fratton Park.''

Anxious to make a success of their high-profile "Respect'' campaign launched at the start of the season following repeated reports of unacceptable behaviour on and off the pitch, the FA are gathering reports from officials at the match, including referee Mike Dean and possible witnesses to detail the level of abuse Campbell suffered.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Police said: "Normally we, with the help of club stewards, would at least issue warnings to obvious ringleaders and that is usually enough to nip this kind of thing in the bud.

"But on this occasion the number of people involved was just too huge and our officers were not sure we had sufficient resources present to deal with further problems that might have evolved.''