Only with a media entirely divorced from history, with no knowledge of anything beyond the immediate horizon, or one too scared to call bullshit, could Graeme Souness – of all people – have gotten away with calling Celtic “the unacceptable face of Scottish football” when his own past is so littered with disgrace of the sort that has reared its head today.
Celtic fans know what the “unacceptable face of Scottish football” looks like and we always have.
It has got in ours, spat at us, screamed at us, chanted at us and sung at us for as long as I’ve been alive and for going back way before then.
It’s not a mystery to us, because we’ve encountered it plenty of times.
Whilst Souness was at Ibrox, the entire culture there reeked of it and the signing of a Catholic player did nothing to change that. Souness has, on occasion, tried to pass that off as his Ibrox legacy, something he did because it needed to be done.
He’s right. It did need to be done. Because UEFA had its eyes on Ibrox and were making it clear that a sectarian signing policy was not on. They were under immense pressure from outside agencies who, unlike the media and the governing bodies, were not going to tolerate such a thing from a club playing in European football competitions.
He always attempted to dress that up as altruism.
But he shot that full of holes in the last week with his barmy, and insightful, pronouncement that it was him who first decided that the Queen’s picture should hang on the dressing room wall, because Rangers was a “Protestant institution.”
What a ridiculous, backward, statement that was … and the press lapped it up.
Those which actually bothered to include that in the quotes.
Because, amazingly, some of them decided that those lines weren’t interesting enough to be in there and they framed the decision as being about brightening up the dressing room.
But Souness’ words were unequivocal. “It was important to me that the club, a Protestant institution, should have it there,” he said.
The unacceptable face of Scottish football is anti-Catholic bigotry and anti-Irish racism, and some of the people who have been calling us out over the last few days indulged in it freely.
Others pretended it wasn’t happening at all.
For years some of the jokers in our media have “stayed out of the politics” to “focus on the football.”
Amazing that they found themselves singing a different tune this past week.
In spite of some tentative progress over the years – when we’ve been able to push the issue into the spotlight – anti-Catholic bigotry and anti-Irish racism remain as dark and as pervasive as they ever were.
Because, in no small part, the cowards we heard from this week never want to talk about it.
That has become ever clearer in the last 24 hours, since a video of Kyle Lafferty appeared online where he appears to use a vile racist chant. That’s par for the course though.
This is Scotland. This is the 21st century, where this kind of thing is still viewed as acceptable.
It will remain this way until it is called out for what it is.
It will remain this way until clowns like Souness take it seriously.
It will remain this way as long as idiots like Jackson and Keevins and that ilk view legitimate protest as something vile whilst they keep schtum on the real problem, the one that they never want to discuss.
The real unacceptable face of Scottish football is the one they’ve ignored for too many years, and it is to their eternal shame that they sweat us on the small stuff whilst the larger issue continues to fester.