When Glen Kamara was racially abused in Prague, Celtic took a stand in solidarity with the player and his club. That was the right thing to do, even if I fiercely criticised the means we chose, which was the abandonment of taking the knee.
Ditching an anti-racism gesture in the name of standing up to racism was plain stupid, contradictory and confusing. You only have to look at what has happened since to recognise that.
Both clubs have since gone back to taking the knee.
Their club’s players, who were instrumental in the decision to reject the gesture, publicly asked their fans to support them in doing so. Scotland’s national team famously – and farcically – did it for one game in the Euros, to show solidarity with England’s players who had been abused for doing it, and ditched it for the others.
This inconsistent stance persists today with some clubs doing it whilst others don’t.
Tackling racism is like tackling anything else; if you’re not in it for the long haul you might as well chuck it early which is what a lot of people and clubs have done.
Celtic’s reversal on the issue is welcome, and a sure sign that we should never have stopped taking the knee in the first place. And yet for all that, we did so for noble reasons.
Our rivals’ press statement last night on the incident involving Kyogo Furuhashi was welcome, as far as it went.
But it should have gone much further.
They should have published a statement on their own website, for a start, in which they laid this out in simple terms. What happened here is unacceptable. It is racist. It is criminal. It is intolerable.
The club should have said, clearly and in a manner not open to interpretation, that they would no longer endure expressions of racism in any form from its supporters – in any form including that based on nationality or religion – and that they abhorred all such behaviour.
If it was accompanied by a realisation that there are problems in their house, and that they were committed to solving them, then the whole of Scotland would have breathed a huge sigh of relief.
It would, in itself, have been a huge step towards fixing things.
That didn’t happen, of course. The old line was trotted out that “these people are not representative of the wider support.” The thing is, nobody in Scotland believes that for one second.
All of us recognise that as just more dancing around the issue.
But surely, the time for that is past. It comes at the end of week when their club is playing more games with tickets.
Some in the press are quick to accuse Celtic of not having done enough to resolve this issue; we’ve made it clear that if their club reverses its policy on this that we’ll be happy to do the same. I’m not sure what more we could have done.
This is a fixture in serious need of a calming influence.
Celtic stood up for Glen Kamara.
With the weekend’s game on the horizon, his club should make a similar and public stand with our player, something which says “in this fight we’re all in it together”.
Words alone will not fix this. We’re beyond that now.