Amidst all the backslapping and self-congratulations from Celtic and Ibrox and Hampden yesterday about the “racism summit” a statement from Prague was being virtually ignored, and even those who paid attention to it didn’t dig too deep into it.
The Slavia chairman is furious, and he’s getting angrier by the minute. His fury is easy to understand. There is a police investigation underway into his player. There are UEFA investigations underway.
There are separate probes into the conduct of players from Ibrox, but they appear not to be taken terribly seriously.
Certainly, the media is lending them no credence.
I understand now the hysteria of the Ibrox statement; whatever happened in that tunnel and the changing rooms in the aftermath of the game is sufficiently serious that they may be without a raft of key players for the start of their Champion League campaign, and for a while afterwards. I believe their players attacked Slavia’s and they are facing bans for it.
As usual, their club’s aggression was a cover for their fear. I think they are probably looking at heavy sanctions, and they will deserve them for their conduct.
The Slavia chairman is not only angry about Ibrox’s statement, but the way the whole matter is being covered here. It’s a disgrace, as I’ve said right from the start. A guy is being hung up for an unproven allegation.
This isn’t how we are supposed to do things.
The Slavia chairman is correct to say that this has been prejudged.
It was prejudged from the second the BT Sport commentary team started foaming at the mouth, from the second Gerrard hollered from the touchline. The media has had it all worked out. Ibrox didn’t wait for any of the dust to settle either.
They were off and running.
When you think of everything that has happened since then, it seems obvious that there’s an ugly element to this which perhaps those involved have yet to consider themselves; I wonder how aware they are that their own behaviour practically reeks of racism?
This is a problem not unique to this situation; this afflicts British football to an unpleasant degree.
It’s like an assumption that these backward foreigners are all racist at heart; players who have played the bulk of their careers on this island are too civilised for this kind of thing.
Tell me you don’t smell the reek of that off this.
I wish I believed that this was just because Ibrox is the one feeling victimised; that’s part of it, too, of course, it has to be.
Because in all the years I’ve been watching the game here I do not remember summits being called because of something a player said to another on the pitch.
So yes, this is about treating Ibrox as a special case and its players like they are a protected species; of course it is.
But it’s not all about that, and this is the other part.
If this was a player based in Scotland the game would be handling it very differently.
There would be no witch-hunt and no hysteria. This is Johnny Foreigner getting beaten down by a gleeful local press who would like to pretend our own games has no such ghastly issues.
Look at The Records’ breathless report from the other day about how Slavia players had “failed to take the knee” for their last game. I won’t even tell you the expletives that popped out of my mouth when my old man sent me that report.
At Celtic Park both clubs refused to take it; is that all that different from “failing” to take it? This isn’t just semantics; it’s perfectly clear that the media here wants to paint Slavia as an evil club.
But what exactly have they done that clubs here haven’t done in defence of their own footballers? Let’s not forget that the worst anyone suffered on the night was the broken face their keeper got from Roofe’s kung-fu kick. Ibrox is standing by him.
The news that Slavia fans are a racist at times has been treated as another reason to lambast their club. But the fans of the Ibrox club have as many citations for sectarian singing as any club has for racist chanting.
Some of the banners their fans have carried down through the years have been despicable. This is why I laugh at the “racism summit” and the idea that it achieved anything but made Ibrox look like a bastion of goodness.
But if you live here you know that it isn’t, and that all of this is stinking hypocrisy.
Suddenly we take this stuff seriously? Suddenly it’s a big deal?
And in the meantime, we sneer at the Czech side and the mentality of their chairmen.
Our media postures and preens as if Scottish football is free of these problems.
It’s the same whenever England plays abroad and its players are abused by rival fans; the whole of their media explodes in outrage, and pretends not to know the same thing happens to black players on their own doorstep every single week of the year.
Targeting pesky foreign fans is a way of expressing outrage without getting any of it on our own shirts though.
Slavia’s chairman is correct to be so angry.
The noises out of Ibrox, which are echoed in the media and given a megaphone by our press corps, are muddying the waters and prejudicing a case that’s not only in front of UEFA but Police Scotland as well.
Kamara’s agent is allowed to talk garbage about a court case as if there is a mountain of evidence.
But this is still one man’s word against another, and you cannot hang someone on the basis of he-said-she-said like this.
Or at least you shouldn’t, and that’s his point.