Paddy Power apologises over homophobic language in video

6 August 2020

Flutter Entertainment-owned Paddy Power has issued an apology over the use of “derogatory and offensive” language in a social media video, following criticism from campaign groups.

The video in question was Paddy Power’s ‘Fan Denial’, a weekly round-up of some of the comments posted by fans on social media about a specific game each week.

This week’s video was focused on the FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Arsenal, but as highlighted by campaign groups, some comments featured in the episode included homophobic language.

Paddy Power admitted that it had “messed up” by including the language, and apologised to anyone offended by the post. The video has since been removed.

Kick It Out, an organisation committed to promoting equality and inclusion in football, hit out at the video and called on Paddy Power to remove the content from its social media channels.

“The phrase is one that ourselves and LGBTQ+ fan groups have long seen as homophobic and unacceptable,” Kick It Out said. “We urge organisations such as Paddy Power to review the insulting language used within its marketing and gain greater understanding of the impact of discrimination.”

Gay Gooners, an LGBTQ+ fan group for Arsenal, also criticised the video, and wrote to Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson to outline its concerns.

“We know homophobic language fuels the toxic atmosphere that often makes loyal LGBTQ+ fans feel unwelcome at football,” the letter said. “By including that particular tweet, Paddy Power undermines its own work in challenging homophobia within sport as well as that of groups such as ourselves and our colleagues through Pride in Football.

“It is necessary for us to call out discriminatory language and behaviour in football whenever we encounter it, in order to make football a safe and enjoyable experience for all fans. This is especially true when such actions come from a platform as large as yours.”

In response to this criticism, Paddy Power said it did not condone the use of such terms, and as soon as the comment was brought to its attention, it deleted the video.

“We are very sorry for any offence caused before it was removed," it said. "We are reviewing our approval processes on content produced by third parties to ensure content on our platform is in line with our values as a brand.

“We are very proud of the work we have done around LGBTQ+ issues, and intend to continue being Allies to the community.”