This morning, in The Guardian, there is an outstanding article from Jacob Steinberg, about the game that took place between Chelsea and Newcastle yesterday.
Entitled “Stamford Bridge hosts dark day for those who care for football’s soul” it is a searing condemnation of both clubs.
In the article he pointed out that Chelsea fans repeatedly sang the name of Abramovich in spite of his links to the murderous Putin regime. Even as they did so, Newcastle fans chanted insults at them and boasted of being richer, when their own club is funded by people who are just as debased and without scruples.
The game came just hours after the news broke that Saudi Arabia had conducted a mass execution of more than 80 people.
English football is mired in this stuff, in shame and disgrace and scandal.
But there are signs, at last, that their league authorities are intent on getting to the bottom of it and doing something to cleanse the game. How serious are they? We’ll soon find out.
But they are facing up to their problems and are at least willing to try.
Scottish football has no such issues, of course, or not as far as we know. I’ve written at length about how we won’t properly know who has their claws in our national sport until we have Fit and Proper Person rules worth a damn and clubs have to follow the basic principles of financial fair play, instead of relying on an SFA system which plainly does not work.
We have other problems, of course, and as with yesterday in England they were on full display at one of the matches.
As with the Stamford Bridge shame game, the disgrace was heightened by the bile that flowed from the stands, all of it from the away fans. I refer, of course, to the match at Dens involving Dundee and the club from Ibrox.
Phil Mac Giolla Bhain and myself have written about the resurgence of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic singing from their fan-base, and yesterday they went through the full medley of hits. Even the vile Famine Song was heard briefly.
This morning a single journalist – Alan Pattullo of The Scotsman – deemed it worth a mention. But every single reporter should be talking about this, and focussing on it relentlessly.
Everyone who cares about Scottish football should take this seriously.
Along with the disgusting racism they belted out, the weaponization of child abuse was also in full tilt, another appalling manifestation of the intense derangement of a support which hates by default and cannot seem to shake its addiction to it. You have to marvel at people who wallow in filth to the extent that an issue like this is viewed as a means of scoring despicable points.
The SFA should act on this, but they are cowed and terrified. If they could rely on the full-throated support of the press corps, if the media was willing to demand action and strike hard on it, then they may well have a chance of sending a message … but the press itself has not got a yard of guts and over and over again have let the game down on this issue.
Ibrox’s fans behave abhorrently.
Their 17th century outlook, their immersion in filth and sectarianism and their bottomless well of loathing for everything and everyone else in the game should have been tackled years ago, and still we have to tolerate this.
I know there are hacks who weary of hearing about this, but it will not cease being relevant just because they wish that the issue would go away.
I suspect they would be a lot more focussed on the matter if the sewer dwellers singing this stuff wanted to wade in their blood and not mine. There is nothing that focusses the mind so much as knowing thousands of your fellow citizens wish that you and your family and friends were dead.
These Peepul have targeted journalists. They have created enemies lists of parliamentarians. They have expressed a wished to take part in bloodthirsty slaughter. They have hidden behind victims of abuse. They have celebrated a famine that killed a million people.
What low are some in this country waiting for prior to calling this out?
What exactly is it going to take until the football club that permits this is forced to confront the problem and act on it?
How much more of this are we willing to put up with?
If this country is waiting for these folks to grow up and join the rest of the civilised world, I’d suggest that the wait will be long and that we should not have to endure their bile in the meantime. The club at Ibrox has uttered not one word of condemnation for the shameful behaviour of its fans in this past month, and nobody is pressuring them to.
And nobody will until the media here starts to highlight this stuff.
In the meantime, our club is committed to playing a friendly game against the one that allows this to happen in its name. Our directors are just as guilty of refusing to deal with this matter in a robust fashion.
We risk bringing deep shame on ourselves as a result.
Scotland appears to be beyond shame on this. The press and the governing bodies allow it for reasons which defeat logic and understanding. The club itself should want to be rid of this vile element, but we’ve long since accepted that there are financial considerations there which Ibrox is simply not willing to compromise on.
And so even as English football gears up to confront its own degradation at the hands of the oligarchs we allow one set of supporters to toxify our national sport. That was a cup quarter final yesterday; Hampden is next to house this filth and it will belch forth from every corner of the ground where they are allowed to have fans.
Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe it’s time to tell these Peepul that until they cease their disgusting songs that they aren’t welcome in the National Stadium … if I thought the SFA had the guts for it, I’d be banging that drum loudly.
It’s a cause that our media should be taking up without delay.
But I am not holding my breath.