This evening, the fans of Scottish football’s teams will be almost as one in wanting the German team to win against the club from Ibrox. The media will say it is shameful and the Ibrox fans, who know this already, will say it proves that the whole country can’t stand them. And you know what? Let’s not sugar coat it, but they are right.
They will ascribe various awful motives to this, some may even moon-howl that this a manifestation of sectarian hatred. It is cobblers and their whinging has no teeth. For Celtic fans there are any number of reasons for not wanting them to win, not least of which is that Seville is a beautiful city that we would rather was spared their invasion, but in truth the fans of every club in the country have some justification for feeling as they do.
If Ibrox is a friendless club that has damn all to do with the hatred of the rest of us and everything to do with the limitless nature of the loathing that pours out of there and in every direction. Ibrox is a vomitorium of bile and bitterness which you cannot be exposed to for any sustained period of time without developing some pretty strong feelings of your own.
For Celtic fans, this is all very easy. Take away our own personal detestation of a support which wants to wade up to its knees in fenian blood and there are still plenty of reasons not to want them to win, first amongst them that it’s not what rivals do.
This is even more so in the context of Scottish football, where there really are only two major clubs and a distinct absence of Sky TV money sloshing around the game. To move as far ahead of them as we possibly can it is important that we be the only side in the Champions League Group Stages, and anything that gets them close to automatic qualification is unthinkable.
So right there is a reason based on cold, hard pragmatism and let’s not kid ourselves here, even if these Peepul didn’t hate us already that would be reason enough for them not to want us to do it if we were in their shoes. They didn’t in 2002.
For fans of other clubs, there are reasons galore too. Maybe they are sick and tired of hearing those disgusting songs in their own grounds or perhaps its Ibrox’s arrogance which inclines them towards supporting Leipzig. And there are pragmatic reasons here too.
Foremost amongst them is the way Ibrox’s standoff with the SPFL now threatens the commercial deals on which some of these clubs depend … it is a big ask to expect those fans to support that club when that club is seeking to damage the governing body as much as it can and does not care at all what collateral damage it leaves in its wake.
The truth is, that club has attempted to make a virtue out of being hated, and they are good at it.
Scottish football will be cheering on RB Leipzig tonight because, to be blunt, there are few, if any, neutrals here any longer … just them and everyone else, and they’ve spent years making it that way.
It is ridiculous to expect the rest of this game to wish them well.