FA statement: Brighton & HA's Sarah Watts

Thursday 22 Jan 2015
Brighton & Hove Albion's crest at the Amex Stadium

The FA was saddened to hear about the recent passing of Sarah Watts, whose funeral takes place on Friday 23 January.

As secretary of Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters’ Club (BHASC) and involved with the club since 1983, Sarah spent many years taking a leading role in the club's work to tackle the homophobia its fans often faced.

Alongside BHASC colleague Liz Costa and members of the wider football and local community, she worked with the football authorities including The FA as well as clubs, the police and campaigning organisations such as the Gay Football Supporters’ Network (GFSN) and Kick It Out to raise awareness of this issue which has particularly blighted Brighton and its supporters. 

Only recently, The FA worked with the club to celebrate their joint innovative efforts which have made a considerable contribution to the game’s understanding of homophobic chanting and how to tackle it.

Inclusion Advisory Board member Graeme Le Saux paid tribute and spoke of his "huge respect" for Sarah.

"I'm certain that her life will be celebrated and what she has fought for will continue to influence and improve the equality agenda in the sport she loved."

Chris Whalley, The FA’s Senior Manager for Stadia Safety & Security, added: "I had known Sarah for a long time – I remember the days when she used to write to me about the problems that Brighton & Hove Albion supporters faced when the very future of their football club was threatened. 

"That was during the period when they had to leave the Goldstone Ground and play outside of Brighton for a few years before returning firstly to the Withdean Stadium and then ultimately to the Amex Stadium.

"More recently, Sarah had become a leading light in football’s campaign against homophobia by challenging The FA to act on the homophobic abuse shouted by supporters of some opposing teams towards the Brighton supporters. 

"The FA was pleased to work with Sarah and her BHASC colleague, Liz Costa, on a campaign in which we asked all clubs that Brighton visit to make a stand and take action against such chanting and I know that Sarah was delighted with the strong progress that this campaign has made over the last two seasons. 

"All of us who have worked with Sarah are deeply saddened by her untimely passing; Sarah leaves us knowing that she did make a difference."

The FA’s thoughts go out to Sarah’s friends, family and colleagues at this time.

By FA Staff