As mentioned earlier today, Chelsea’s Ashley Cole is likely be on the receiving end of no small portion of heckling from Arsenal’s traveling supporters Sunday at Stamford Bridge. According to the Independent’s Sam Wallace, London’s Metropolitan Police will be on the scene to stamp out any incidents of homophobic abuse, a scenario so unprecedented that Wallace writes “though this London derby has been poisonous enough between the two managers, this time it could be the first Premiership match where supporters may be arrested for trying to smuggle in a pink feather boa or an inflatable mobile phone.”
Things could turn ugly depending on the nature of the chants towards Cole from Arsenal’s expected 3,100 fans. The matter was drawn to the attention of the Metropolitan police by Peter Tatchell’s OutRage! gay rights group which said Chelsea stewards would be checking fans’ bags for “homophobic material” while police officers would hand out “anti-homophobic leaflets”. Offensive chants will result in arrests and Arsenal have issued a statement telling their fans that “inflatable mobiles or fake bank notes” will not be permitted.
Cole has made it clear that he is not gay although he can expect plenty of stick for his part in the distasteful saga that led to his departure from Arsenal in August. Yesterday, Wenger appealed for all sides not to “make a war” out of the game and that the managers both had “a responsibility before the game to calm it down”. “Recently in Paris we had a guy [Paris St-Germain fan] killed at a game and that is not what we want in football,” Wenger said.