Sooner or later, this is going to cost us more than just a few paltry fines.
When the first stand closure comes – and it will come – Celtic and a section of our support is going to go toe to toe with only one winner.
And these folks cannot kid on that they haven’t been warned. They must not be allowed to pretend that they are being victimised.
It is the club which is being victimised, by their selfishness and egos run amuck.
They are more like their Union Bears rivals than they care to admit.
But it’s the Lazio fans who are causing us problems this time.
Lazio are an infamous and bigoted club. Their fans’ racism is notorious throughout Italy and across the continent itself. For years now, they’ve collided with the Italian FA and UEFA over their right-wing views and the manifestation of those views in the stands.
The Italian club was one of the reasons Strict Liability was introduced at UEFA in the first place. They had already shamed themselves in domestic games with evil banners about the Holocaust (“Auschwitz is your homeland and the ovens are your homes” one read) and a commemoration to the Yugoslav warlord Arkan. UEFA was petrified by the idea that right-wing slogans might proliferate in crowds, and Strict Liability was one of the solutions that was born.
Lazio’s fans have never bothered to toe the line. They are one of the clubs who fans have historically indulged in the disgraceful behaviour of racially taunting their own players … imagine that? UEFA has so far not been able to halt their despicable antics.
As others have pointed out today, these fans don’t care enough about the Europa League to even half fill the stadium during games in the tournament, so stand closures will have limited impact. UEFA’s ultimate sanction – a stadium closure – is obviously feared by the club, but perhaps not the fans. If the governing body decides on that penalty it will hit Lazio hard … as is evidenced in their furious letter to their fans and the discipline board.
But in this case it will hit Celtic fans too, as many thousands have booked trips to Rome on the back of a whopping ticket allocation which guaranteed many a brief who otherwise might not have gotten one. And you have to wonder at the fairness of that.
Ground closures punish all the supporters – the innocent as well as the guilty.
It punishes both clubs, and in particular those which enjoy taking a large away support to matches. The penalty is supposed to be financial … and it would be, in this case, but on the wrong people. Those who would be most punished are our fans who have already booked the trip.
UEFA has to do something about racist chanting in the stands … the way I see it there’s a punishment above and beyond the closing of grounds. When they start banning clubs from Europe entirely for it then we will definitely see some changes … that too would punish the innocent, but how innocent are you if you let your club be hijacked by goons?
It’s a question a lot of folk should be asking themselves.
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