Celtic got their wrists slapped today as UEFA handed down a modest £15,000 fine for the “offensive banner” which was unveiled against them at the last European match.
The punishment therefore pretty much fits the crime; in the grand scheme this wasn’t even littering.
It’s amazing the amount of odium our fans eat from those who would love to see us in real trouble over this stuff.
It is never going to happen. Celtic fans do not sing prohibited songs and the idea that our political banners ever cross the kind of lines which others fans do – racism, right wing ideology, the promotion of violence or hate – is preposterous.
Over the years, I have read some truly stupid things in the mainstream media and on rival fan sites which suggests that it’s only a matter of time before The Green Brigade lands us in serious trouble with the European governing body.
But that’s simply not going to happen unless it’s because of flares and smoke-bombs, which have largely vanished from Celtic Park.
Our politics is not a problem for UEFA.
It neither stokes regional tensions nor promotes shady causes. The commemoration of a war which is over … if they don’t have a problem with poppies being worn during international fixtures they can’t seriously argue that we are liable for punishment because our fans memorialise the hunger strikers in song.
I know this stuff leaves a bad taste in a lot of mouths. So does any form of political expression.
“Support for a terrorist group” is how our enemies would put it; support for the political agenda which shares government in the North of Ireland is what I’d call it.
This thing was settled in the political sphere, which means it was a war all along. Even the people they were shooting at recognise that they are now legitimate partners in the national endeavour.
The banner this time around wasn’t even connected to Republicanism, of course.
It was a statement about UEFA’s contempt for fans. How can you get into trouble for telling UEFA that it doesn’t respect the people who make this game possible? The fine itself is a travesty.
The low level of it suggests that even those handing it out are well aware of it.