As FIFA Is Demanding Action Over Racism, Scottish Football Nurses Its Dark Little Secret.

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On Saturday, at Dumbarton, one of the home team players was subjected to a tirade of bigoted abuse from some of the vilest football fans in Europe.

You do not need me to tell you who was giving the abuse or who was taking it. The media played their own role in drumming this up all week long, from the minute Lennon Junior was confirmed to be playing.

At the same time as this is being largely ignored by a Scottish media which continues to prove that its one key characteristic is its cowardice, there is a major storm brewing over in Italy where Mike Maignan, the French keeper, walked off the field along with his team-mates during Milan’s game with Udinese at the weekend after an outpouring of bile from the stands, and in England where Sheffield Wednesday’s game was stopped for several minutes whilst the ref spoke to the manager’s after Coventry’s Kasey Palmer had been targeted for racist chants by scumbags in the stands.

In the aftermath, FIFA President Giovanni Infantino, in a social media post, demanded action, at long last, to bring this to an end. “As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists,” he wrote.

And it is not before time. This kind of action is years overdue.

I would love to see this in Scotland. We have our own brand of racism here, one that is so alien to outside ears UEFA didn’t even know what to charge Ibrox with when they opened their famous “sectarian singing” charge against them years ago.

Do you remember what inspired that case?

It was Martin O’Neill, sitting in front of UEFA delegates and media officials prior to a Champions League match, and accusing the Ibrox fans of racism after one of his players had been subjected to a 90-minute tirade of it at Ibrox.

And who was the player? It was, of course, Neil Lennon. On Saturday his boy was subjected to that same degenerate behaviour amidst chants that his father should hang.

What he was subjected to was absolutely disgusting, and of course the media silence, their utter failure to confront this stuff and call it out every single time something like it happens, is part of the problem. Tom English would rather talk about our “failure” to start an academy graduate in the game yesterday. They really have a lot to answer for.

So too, though, do some of the players here.

The most inspiring thing about what happened in Italy and England is the universal condemnation from the clubs and from dozens of individual players within them, all of them giving their unequivocal support to their colleagues. In Italy it’s wall to wall. In England, high profile players and former professionals have spoken out in defence of Palmer.

Who in Scottish football has raised a murmur in support for Lennon? It is shocking. Dumbarton’s footballers, like those of Milan, were well entitled to leave the field in protest at that; thankfully the Milan players showed their team-mate solidarity.

Kick It Out released a statement;

“Now it’s up to authorities and clubs to punish those responsible, but if clubs cannot prevent this happening, they too should face consequences,” it said.

“We welcome stronger and more meaningful punishments, as called for by FIFA. It cannot be on the players to solve this. They are already showing courage under extreme distress and emotional trauma. They need support with actions not words.”

The club that turned its fans on a referee at the start of this month are certainly not going to get a grip on this matter themselves. Hell, to the best of my knowledge Dumbarton FC didn’t utter a single syllable in support of their footballer, they’ve just acted like it didn’t happen at all. And maybe it didn’t, because no-one in the media seems to care.

It’s times like this when I ponder that old George Berkeley musing, “If a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

But this isn’t a case of no-one being there to hear it, although we’re acting that way.

Our version of that question is, “If Ibrox’s bigotry and bile is ignored, did it actually happen?” We all know that it happened. We all know that it took place. It was heard clearly both by those in the ground and those watching the game on TV. To ignore it is to ignore something scandalous, and in doing so we cannot prevent it from happening again.

Scottish football continues to keep its dark little secret even as the rest of the world is coming to grips with racism in its traditional form. Our own is peculiar, localised, but no less real or depressing. More depressing by far is that we could have driven this out of the game decades ago and chose the path of least resistence instead.

But I suppose when it’s not your blood these Peepul are up to their knees in, you’re less invested in finding an answer.

Sooner or later though, Scottish football must reckon with this and say “no more.”

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  • Tony B says:

    So that’s it? The SMSM ignores it and nothing happens, thus enabling and condoning it.

    What then can we do about it?

    Any answers?

  • John Copeland says:

    The problem as I see it is that in wee Scawlin’ in 2024 there is still lots of money to be earned from disgusting bigotry and racism … especially when there is ‘ sport ‘ involved ! Saturday’s Sportsound had Ian MC Call going for Derek Adams’ jugular calling him out for criticising the quality of Scottish football . MC Call went on to say that it was the multi differences that make the game great in this country compared to others .Presumably disgraceful chants and singing is all part of McCall ‘s fantastic product which Scottish football provides for the onlooking world audience which he is so proud of ?

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Shameful, despicable, although ‘expected’ behaviour and NL’s son was a marked man for their bile from the start. In fact, these morons were probably lookin forward tae it every bit as much as the game itself. Nae surprises that the media, who are culpable of highlightin the boy days before the game, ‘chose’ tae ignore it. Tho surprised that Dumbarton haven’t come out and condemned it. If (unlike the media’s reasons) it’s because they’re tryin tae rise above it, some might agree wi that. Personally, ah think they should be called out and exposed at every turn. It’s no just against Dumbarton we’ve been hearin their specialist, sectarian bile and vitreol, it’s every other game now, especially away. Hopefully UEFA are takin an interest.

  • Fun time frankie says:

    If Dumbarton fc or the at a do nothing NL,S son should walk away and sue Dumbarton for not being protected from racism and bigotry at his place of work.

  • MartinKennea says:

    Someone should be contacting UEFA about this horrible bigotry and sectarianism . EVERY dumbarton player should have walked off the pitch .

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Glad you called it out for what it is James – RACISM !

    Young Lennon is going to have to suffer immensely in ‘Bonnie’ Scotland regarding this and I just hope he is as strong and stoic as his father Lenny was in dealing with it on a daily basis…

    It’s everywhere in the ‘Best’ (not) wee country in the world you know –

    While ma bit isn’t the worst for anti catholic and anti Irish racism it’s there in small sporadic pockets and here’s a wee recent experience of mine on the subject…

    In the pub a fortnight ago in the company of a fellow Hoops fan and a very decent Sevco one (married to a catholic lady he is) another Sevco one joined us.
    Originally from Falkirk he is quite mouthy about Sevco but of course NEVER pays to watch them live nor is ever seen in their colours, so after a few he starts to gob on about what The Hoops ‘did to “Rangers”
    He was swiftly put right about their name now and their death date 14 / 6 / 2012 and then he started on about Celtic being ‘peadophiles’ – Consequently I asked him to elaborate, he stated Torbett, I told him justice had been done regarding that individual, he stated there ‘were more’ again I asked him to elaborate and he couldn’t so I said he was basically harbouring the very people that he was ranting on about and that I should perhaps pass on the ‘information’ he gave me to Nicola the local community cop – well he went chalk white on that suggestion and his daughter stepped in at that point to ask that we ‘drop the conversation’ that he himself had ‘started’

    The thing is – This Guy is very very vocal for The SNP and an independent Scotland (a lot of Sevco fans on these shores here are) and is normally a really nice guy – until it comes to Celtic and Catholic’s (he is certainly not a church goer himself and is more likely to be found propping up the bar on a Sunday) – He openly stated that he likes me and ma pro independence politics but ‘hates’ the club that I support – He doesn’t mind Clachnacuddin or the unfashionable English Championship club that I go to watch, he just hates Celtic…

    He also wants to see Ireland independent and hates England and The England as well – I wonder how these thoughts would be met if he voiced them in Sevco pubs in Glasgow or Ayrshire and certain areas in the central belt. Probably 75% hostility towards his views I’d say…

    I guess it’s fair to call him a racist – anti Celtic, anti catholic, anti English – yet vocally pro independence for both Scotland and Ireland as well (He never mentioned Wales for whatever reason but probably would want them free from The Butcher’s Apron as well I’d imagine) –

    Aye – it takes all sorts to make a world and that fellow, who by the way had a really good career and is successful, is a ‘mixed bag’ for sure…

    Confused springs to mind !!!!

    • Kevan McKeown says:

      @ CATH. He just sounds fkn daft. An idiot, bigot, racist, that probably couldnae hold a theological discussion, if his life depended on it. Ye ‘ll never get through tae his type. Unless he gives ye the opportunity tae show him up for the obvious nob that he is, better just blankin him.

    • Brora's Green and White says:

      Aye, there’s many a confused Rangers fan in the Highlands who can be quite anti-English at times but become very British when talking about club football.

      I’m a Brora Rangers fan myself and Brora has always had a problem with anti Irish xenophobia from Rangers fans, who are often also anti English. But sectarian tensions are on the rise at the moment because Rangers fans have recently taken over the Brora Rangers social club and use it to host loyalist nights with loads of anti-Irish songs. It was previously a great club that united the village behind the local team, but has now been used to divide the village. Some of these people think thet have a devine right to own and control everything.

      PS. I’ll need to pop into the Nip Inn again sometime. Best bar in Inverness!

  • Jack says:

    For me, the “no more” should mean, no racism, no politics, no religion, no non-football related history being sung or chanted about at any games. Also supporters should not be using foul language or crude insults that can be heard by tv audiences and nearby children. Fly the flags and sing the songs of your football team only and leave all the other stuff behind for ever. The ruling organisations need to get proactive about achieving this.

  • SSMPM says:

    Dumbarton have nothing to say on it, the rankers, the SFA, press, and radio have nothing to say on this nor the great many previous examples of it and indeed those to come. ‘Kick It Out’ have nothing to say on it. Faddy and Mark Wilson on Sportscene had nothing to say on it. The national news had nothing to say on it.
    It really is a national disgrace. They are all a national disgrace.
    As you quite rightly say “when it’s not your blood the Peepul are up to their knees in then you’re less invested in finding an answer” or perhaps it’s as simple as they’re all part of it. If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. HH

  • Frank Connelly says:

    spot on and the longer we continue to take the lead at whatever ground its going on the better. And the longer we keep that mobs support from our ground the better.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Agree about the lack of criticism of the disgraceful chanting aimed at a young football player in the early days of his career as he sat on the bench. Nothing from his parent club, nothing from his present club and nothing from the Media or the Football Authorities.
    I hate to say, but some of the songs our two so called ultra groups sing and chant leave a lot to be desired. There is definitely a sectarian element in their repertoire, and you wonder if they don’t get what this club is all about, “open to all”, it doesn’t seem to get through to them.
    I know it might not be personal abuse but they leave us wide open to whataboutery.

  • Auldheid says:

    If you don’t write it down/broadcast it , then it never happened.

    The policy of Scottish media since Harland and Wolf set up a shipyard in Govan in 1912.

  • Fun time frankie says:

    Great idea seppington walk off at the coup and the world will take notice, fcuk the 3 points

  • green manalishi says:

    This is the biggest problem in Scottish Football: Dumbarton are silent. Referee is silent. SFA say nothing about it. The Media, including radio, papers and TV are all silent. Even Neil Lennon has nothing to say. In the massive galling silence there is the opportunity for Rangers to reply with their usual denial. Nothing to see here sir.
    If the Celtic fans coordinate a campaign to call out the Rangers and their vile fans then you know inevitably what will happen- there will be a counter campaign, backed up by their enablers in the Scottish media, that we are the other cheek of the ‘same arse’ nonsense of the ‘old firm’ etc. Individual stories of drunk idiots or neds being anti social wearing celtic tops on trains, buses or a pub etc. Then we’ll have stories of other clubs and their fans of Celtic fans singing Republican and Irish songs and then the media spinning that as ‘sectarianism’ etc. They have already made an attempt to create a ‘sectarian parity’ by persuading the Nil by Mouth and other organizations to say the term ‘Hun’ is sectarian to pander to the worst of the Zombie dregs- this has given them a cop out and ammunition for their whatabouttery. You know it will happen. It’s so predictable.

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