LONDON: Bursaspor’s Colin Kazim-Richards has been found guilty in an English court of making a homophobic gesture to fans.

Brighton magistrates were told that Kazim-Richards mimicked pulling his shorts down and put his left arm behind his bottom at the match in February last year when he was playing for Blackburn.

Kazim-Richards, 27, claimed he was “having a bit of banter” with fans who he said were abusing him. He was convicted of using abusive or insulting behaviour and fined £750.

Sussex Police said it was the first conviction of its type involving allegations of homophobia against a professional footballer.

The court heard he was targeted by fans with the chant “you’re fat and you know you are”.

The player told magistrates he had been prepared for the banter and said he had been “interacting with the fans” when he made the gesture behind his back. He added: “I was basically doing what they were doing to me.”

A number of fans complained after the match to the police and gave evidence.

PC Darren Balkham, Sussex Police’s football liaison officer for Brighton and Hove Albion, said after the hearing: “The Brighton fans have been subjected to a lot of homophobic abuse over many years.

“This was somewhat of a test case involving a professional footballer.

“We are where racism was 20 years ago. This was the first case where a professional footballer has been convicted of making a homophobic gesture towards the crowd.”

Kazim-Richards, who had denied using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, was also ordered to pay £620 court costs and a £75 victim surcharge.