The BBC Should Not Be The Only Outlet To Correct Itself On Why Celtic Got A UEFA Fine.

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Well done to The Celtic Star guys today for another excellent article, this time on how the BBC has corrected its story on the reasons why our club was fined by UEFA.

I wrote two articles on this subject yesterday, one presenting the fact that Celtic had been fined by UEFA for a “provocative display of an offensive nature”, along with a full explanation as to why we were fined in 2016, and why the same charge, on the same basis, didn’t stand up to the least scrutiny.

In that piece, I expressed my clear doubt that the fine had been issued for the flying of the Palestinian flag.

That article was an appeal for clarity.

The piece clearly stated that if the fine was due to the flying of the Palestinian flag, the lazy interpretation which every mainstream outlet had, the club would be entitled to appeal and to seek answers.

After all, UEFA has been perfectly relaxed about the flag of Palestine on all but one occasion, and that was when it was being used in a deliberately provocative way.

Against Atletico Madrid it was not being used in that manner.

My second article confirmed what the first had suspected; that in fact the fine we got was as a result of a certain banner, that of the PFLP.

They are regarded as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US and other countries. That banner was clearly visible in The Green Brigade section, which UEFA observers and others were scrutinising closely.

In that second article I pointed out that Celtic was fined more for the “provocative display” than Olimpiakos were for the racist chanting of its supporters; it was perfectly clear from that decision that we weren’t being fined for flying the flag of Palestine.

The Celtic Star is entirely correct to point out that they had this story right. They are entirely correct to say that it’s the Celtic sites which once again have provided the proper information and put that proper information in its correct context.

We are the only ones who have been in the least bit interested in getting to the bottom of this affair and writing the facts, we’re the only people who reached out to individuals and organisations who were able to shed light on this. We are the only ones who have bothered to do any due diligence on the subject. I think we should all be pretty pleased with that.

I am glad that the BBC has joined us in doing so.

I am glad they have corrected the record.

I hope they aren’t the only mainstream outlet which does so. I regard that as a major win for common sense and one that will help create a wider understanding of the sort of things UEFA allows and which it frowns on; that was the real point behind the first article yesterday. To promote a clearer understanding of the context in which UEFA hands these fines out. We are not being victimised.

The media’s lazy interpretation of those fines as being for “flying Palestinian flags” is typical of how they do things.

They have a surface level understanding of this stuff, and rarely, if ever, bother to look too far beneath it, although one look at the actual nature of the charge and how it was phrased should have been a big red blinking warning light.

I’m not suggesting here that the media was pursuing an agenda on this one. I don’t see what possible purpose or function that would have served. Celtic got fined because of what The Green Brigade did on the night, and that’s what some people will consider to be the main story. But they got their facts colossally wrong and created a false understanding of these events.

I’m not blaming any individual either.

This was an industry wide mistake, but a fairly massive one, and one of the issues I have with this is that it was based, in the first place, on the erroneous belief that Celtic’s decision to ban The Green Brigade was somehow in response to those flags.

As I said in the first article on this yesterday, Celtic’s decision had nothing to do with the Palestine flags and everything to do with The Green Brigade’s general conduct.

If the club had been concerned explicitly about those flags it could have closed The Green Brigade section for that game, and it chose not to. It did limit their early access to the stadium, a move that prevented what the club was really concerned about, which was some sort of political banner being unfurled which UEFA would have been forced to deal with. In the end, the clowns who brought the PFLP flag made sure of the UEFA fine anyway, but prevented the larger public relations disaster which the club was actually worried about.

The media simply has to be better at this stuff. It doesn’t serve any of us well when they present a distorted version of events like this. It doesn’t help the general understanding amongst our fan-base when they write nonsense and see that nonsense spread like a virus.

This could have been damaging. The perception of our club as having tacitly agreed with a UEFA sanction for flying the Palestinian flag would have created obvious issues, and I am sure a lot of people will assume that’s why the media did it, but I’m not convinced that’s the case, this is a genuine example of them being asleep at the wheel.

Which isn’t to say that it’s not important to correct the record to prevent that perception taking root, because clearly that does need to be considered here as well.

Strip this stuff of its emotional impact and what you find is a long list of offences which Celtic has been fined for which come out of the same section of the ground. I would stipulate, having looked at it properly in the past couple of days, that the 2016 fine was for insulting our guests and being deliberately offensive; the Palestinian flag was not what we got fined for, it was the context in which it was used that night. This time we got fined because some revolutionary wannabe decided to bring the flag of a Middle East terror group to the game.

The media doesn’t have to go inventing stories or doing spin here; I think that’s a sufficiently big one on its own that they could have run with it without distortions. Which is why I don’t believe that they are guilty of deliberately misleading people … just for a lack of professional standards and a complete failure to do their job in the best way they could.

The exact wording of the BBC’s “correction” reads thus – and well done to The Celtic Star again for finding this and pointing it out;

“CORRECTION 22 November 2023: This story originally incorrectly reported that Celtic were fined after fans displayed Palestine flags. UEFA has since confirmed this was not the reason for the fine.”

Confirmed. By UEFA.

So, the mainstream narrative on this has been completely wrong. The BBC has, at least, gone to UEFA for clarity and been given the answer they sought, and to their own credit they have moved to correct the record, although they’ve done it in such a low-key way that it wasn’t immediately obvious, which is an irritant in itself.

This is another time-honoured trick of the mainstream press, and one they get away with too damned much; the “page 17 correction” which never quite undoes the damage done by the original, and wrong, version of the story.

I think when you get something this wrong you should have to broadcast that with the same trumpets and fanfare you used to promote the untruth … the BBC should have posted a brand new story correcting its mistake instead of just amended the old one.

Still, they’ve at least done it and that should be the cue for the rest of the mainstream press to put out their own “corrections” but I’ll bet you that even when the national broadcaster has said that this is not true that some of these outlets will be running the lie far into the future … and that’s what I’m calling it now when the truth is freely and publicly available for all to see. Anyone still pushing the old narrative is simply not playing with a straight bat.

It’s the Celtic sites, again, who have done the job right, and I think it’s fair to say that we’ve gotten pretty good at this stuff over the years.

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  • Magua says:

    Have peepul at the Bluenose Broadcasting Corporation seen the error of their ways? I await with fevered anticipation, the headline stating that the club currently playing out of Ibrox is a new club. Then again…

    Hail Hail.

  • SSMPM says:

    A new BBC article would have better served to highlight this/their error you don’t call out as deliberate. Given they’re the only ones to do so however it only seems like a break in the wind rather than the ongoing breaking wind. It’ll be back to normal soon enough.
    Well done blogging community again, shame you can’t get together and produce a daily rag and reach out to a greater readership. Perhaps with backing of a wealthy Desmond type individual. HH

  • john clarke says:

    The official Party flag for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was nowhere to be seen at Celtic Park.

    The action that resulted in the fine was most likely Green Brigade supporters unfurling two large banners that read “Free Palestine” and “Victory to the Resistance”.

    Link to PFLP Party Flag:

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