If Kyle Lafferty had made a remark about black people, Muslims or Jews the wider world of Scottish football would have already heard the last of him. He would be persona non grata in every corner of the game.
Nobody would look the road he was on.
But all he did was direct a “sectarian slur” – the media’s phrase, not mine – at a Celtic fan, and that’s no big deal.
In Scotland, who really cares?
So instead, yesterday, he was the subject of fawning sycophancy first by his own manager and then by the media itself who spoke excitedly about how he couldn’t wait to face Celtic in the League Cup semi-final. The guy who was abused by Lafferty, and which led to his ten match ban wasn’t even an afterthought. He wasn’t thought about at all.
Instead we had the spectacle of McInnes trying to portray the player as the real victim, followed closely by the club itself. Even after Lafferty was caught, but before the SFA got its act together and banned him, they were happy to have him still in the team. That’s how seriously Scottish football took this matter. It’s how little the game gives a damn.
I remember the Hugh Dallas email scandal like it was yesterday; a similar thread ran through that series of events, an overwhelming sort of sense that most people thought we should just take it as a joke and get on with it.
That it came slap bang in the middle of a refereeing strike for which we were getting blamed after an official had lied to us only confirmed our worst fears, that at Hampden was a bureaucracy that simply did not wish us well at all, and the whole game covered by a media which simply could not have cared less about facts and truth and painted us in the worst light.
But of course, we’re just paranoid.
Yesterday, Alex McLeish decided to launch a broadside against Martin O’Neill accusing him, and Ange with him, indeed the whole institution that is Celtic, of “diving down a conspiracy rabbit hole.”
You really have to laugh, or you’d scream into a pillow.
I wonder why McLeish would think those who remember that period with any sort of clarity might think that there were one or two other institutions in this game that were simply not to be trusted? He was at Ibrox at the height of EBT use.
He got one himself. He and those who were involved in that scandal didn’t just cheat our club and others, they screwed the taxpayer out of millions of pounds and what’s more, they didn’t pay for any of it.
Rangers died as a result of their cheating and tax fraud. But the leaders of this game pretend otherwise and the media goes along with it.
Not content with letting these guys off scott-free with one scam that cost the taxpayer money, the BBC Scotland studios are filled to the rafters with ex-Ibrox players who were the beneficiaries of that scandal and that means that the tax-payer is even more in hock in granting them some faux respectability.
McLeish himself was hired as the national coach for a second time, after he walked out on his country. The real issue was that the second time around the SFA knew what he and his club had been up to for all those years … and gave him the gig anyway.
These are the people accusing us of paranoia; a mainstream press filled to the rafters with apologists for Ibrox and those who played there. An SFA more interested in preserving a “relationship” with the club that plays there rather than tackling them for their frequent moments of lunacy in which they threaten contracts and sponsorship deals.
What other country would entertain the idea that Lafferty and McLeish are legitimate figures? The same sort of one where a referee can be caught drinking in a fan bar and have that story plastered all over the papers and all without anyone asking the killer question; should this guy be anywhere near games they are involved in?
The simplest measure to ensure fairness that there is – making refs declare their allegiances – is one that Scottish football refuses to adopt.
But of course, we’re just paranoid. Right?
Well if we are, these are only some of the many, many, many, many reasons why.