As most people are aware, the Ibrox club’s fans have been told that they will not now be allowed into the stadium in Lyon for Thursday night’s game. This was after the club had been allocated 2000 tickets just last week.
The reversal is stunning. If this was Celtic fans I would be frankly appalled and raising 99 kinds of Hell and demanding answers from the club.
To be honest, their club seems rabbit in the headlines shell-shocked by the news.
They would have been even more stunned when they read the stated reasons for the ban.
I had thought, upon hearing it, that yes there were global health care issues and even a little bit of the French government getting some payback against Johnson and his band of xenophobes in Downing Street for the recent escalation of the migrant crisis; what better way to send a message subtly than to slap about a bunch of football fans?
But in fact, this is a much bigger story than that, and with deeper roots.
According to a French newspaper, the decision came about in no small part because the Interior Minister over there – in charge of policing amongst other things – branded the Ibrox travelling support as hooligans in his recommendation that their fans not be allowed to attend the game.
In that paper, he referenced “recent events which surrounded the trips of the Rangers in the Europa League,” branding their fans as “frequently a source of public disorder (including) violent behaviour.”
In another segment, talking about how their fans had been largely forbidden from making trips to Prague and Copenhagen the interior minister pointed out that” they have repeatedly bypassed [these] prohibitions.” And a final segment focussed on the appalling behaviour of the Ibrox fans at the home match, where the Lyon coach was vandalised.
In discussing that night, the Interior Minister pointed out that “an attempted brawl between supporters at risk was interrupted by the police and the official OL club bus was degraded.”
I recall a lot of Ibrox fans feeling that was terribly funny at the time.
I wonder if any of those sniggering at it were booked for the away trip.
Look, nobody likes to see football fans mucked about like this.
As I said, if this was us I’d be desperately unhappy and feel terrible for the supporters in question, but there is an element which follows the Ibrox club abroad which has caused mayhem everywhere its been in the last few years and we’d all heard whispers about trouble in Copenhagen and Prague which the Scottish press had gone out of its way not to familiarise itself with.
It was always going to come back to haunt them somewhere. European police forces trade intel on this stuff and they have a bad, bad reputation which explains, in some ways, why foreign cops are often so “heavy” with them.
So really, these aren’t normal circumstances and sympathy is a difficult emotion to muster.
That a member of the French government has been so outspoken in his condemnation of them shows how badly their reputation stinks on foreign shores.
Many thousands of their fans will probably still travel to Lyon, and with no game to get into there is no limit to the trouble they might cause. Not that this will emphasise the point or anything.
Not that it will help them the next time they are abroad.