Two football fans were arrested during Birmingham’s home match with Sheffield Wednesday for alleged misogynistic chanting towards referee Rebecca Welch.
Birmingham won the Sky Bet Championship fixture 2-1, which earned new manager Wayne Rooney his maiden victory in charge of the club.
It was overshadowed by news of two 17-year-olds being arrested for alleged chants towards Welch, who made history in January when she became the first woman to officiate a Championship match after she took charge of Birmingham’s clash with Preston.
❗️ Ahead of #BIRSHW, Birmingham City would like to remind supporters of what is considered unacceptable behaviour towards match officials.
— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) November 24, 2023
“We have arrested two boys for misogynistic chanting at the female referee during Birmingham City’s home game at St Andrew’s today,” a statement from West Midlands Police read.
“Our officers heard the chants being directed at the official and acted quickly to arrest the two, who are both 17.
“They are currently in custody on suspicion of a public order offence as we carry out enquiries. We don’t tolerate any form of hate and it is important hate crime is reported to us.
“Today is White Ribbon Day which is the start of a 16-day long campaign. It focuses on everyone, especially men and boys on what they can do to change the behaviour and culture that leads to abuse and violence against women and girls.”
Birmingham warned supporters on Friday about their behaviour towards match officials.
A statement ahead of the Sheffield Wednesday fixture highlighted how Welch faced “sexist and misogynistic” chants during her previous match at St Andrew’s against Preston and the club reminded supporters that a five-year ban could be issued for discriminatory or hate speech.
“Prior to Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship fixture with Sheffield Wednesday, a statement was issued on BCFC.com encouraging supporters to be respectful towards the match officials,” a Birmingham statement read.
“The Football Club are, therefore, deeply disappointed that two supporters were overheard by West Midlands Police officers engaging in misogynistic chanting towards today’s referee and are currently in custody on suspicion of a public order offence.
“Birmingham City strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and will support the police with their enquiries.”