Football fans around the world share a passion for their team and strive to create an atmosphere of enthusiasm and energy during matches. Unfortunately, some fans can lead to an atmosphere that creates a negative and intimidating atmosphere, spoiling the experience for others. Recently, John Westwood’s story has gained widespread attention for all the wrong reasons – as a season ticket holder at Portsmouth Football Club who was involved in multiple incidents of indecent behaviour which ultimately resulted in his exclusion from the stadium. In this article we examine what these consequences have on football fans as well as local communities affected by Mr Westwood’s actions and impact upon football fans around world.
On March 11, 2022, Mr Westwood’s behaviour reached a new low when he entered the ladies’ toilets to claim transgender identity. This made occupants of Fratton Park uncomfortable and stewards asked him to leave; however, Mr Westwood left of his own accord. Season ticket holder Mary Williams confronted Mr Westwood at that time and described his ranting and raving in the loos as’massively offensive’ to anyone who is transgender.
After the incident, Portsmouth FC took immediate steps to ensure such behavior would not be tolerated. They met with Mr Westwood and handed him a one-year ban from attending matches, starting March 11, 2022 – this ban would extend into this season’s playoffs as Portsmouth FC sit on 61 points and three behind sixth place Peterborough United. Furthermore, they barred him from prior home matches against Port Vale and Forest Green Rovers (for their 125th anniversary match), with his ban being extended after five months but being reinstated should another incident take place.
Mr Westwood’s ban would see him miss at least 17 matches across all competitions. While the club has taken steps to maintain a safe, friendly, and welcoming environment for everyone at the stadium, incidents like these have an impact on the wider community. Mary Williams commented, ‘The ban seems reasonable if it’s his last chance. Hopefully he has had time to reflect on his behaviour – not just this most recent incident but all of them since that preseason game.’
The Associate Dean for Students at the University of Portsmouth declared it to be ‘an isolated act of ignorance’, adding that connections between Her Game Too – an initiative which promotes inclusivity for women and girls in football – and the club could still be maintained.
Football is a unifying force that brings people together and fosters a sense of belonging among fans. Unfortunately, incidents of indecent behaviour such as that displayed by Mr Westwood spoil the experience for everyone involved. It is encouraging to see that the club has taken appropriate steps to ensure such behavior will not be tolerated. Hopefully Mr Westwood can take this time to reflect on his actions before making an effective return to Fratton Park free from any incidents.
In conclusion, it is imperative to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all football fans. Degrading behavior has far-reaching repercussions, so it is up to every fan to ensure such incidents never happen again. We hope this incident serves as a reminder that football is more than just a game – it is an inclusive community built upon respect, acceptance and diversity.