The English FA Embarrassed Ours With Their Swift Response To Old Trafford Chants Of Hate.

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On Sunday, I watched one of the best football matches I’ve seen in many years, the clash between Manchester Utd and Liverpool, at Old Trafford, in the FA Cup.

I think most neutrals expected the Anfield club to go there and win. It was not to be, although they twice had the victory in the palm of their hand. Manchester Utd fought brilliantly for the victory.

The game was marred by just one thing; the chanting of some of the fans, those of the home side in particular, who mocked Hillsborough. Some of their rivals mocked Munich. In England they have a specific name for this ghastly phenomenon; tragedy chanting.

The mocking of dreadful events which afflicted rival sides.

In Scotland, fans have been accused of mocking the Ibrox disaster. Horrible. Every one of them should be drummed out of grounds, and they are so few in number it would be easy to do. A much tougher problem is that for years one club’s supporters have mocked one of the greatest tragedies of them all; the Irish potato famine. That’s not so easy to resolve.

And it’s not so easy to resolve for precisely the reasons the Old Trafford chants were in the news. They happened, but those responsible for them will pretty soon wish they weren’t because the FA has made a statement, both clubs have made statements and Greater Manchester Police haven’t just uttered some words of condemnation but actually arrested people.

We don’t take chants like these seriously enough to deal with them robustly.

The media doesn’t want to have the debate.

The football authorities would rather ignore them and Police Scotland’s stance is that arresting people for songs of hate is too complicated because they can’t physically arrest everyone doing it and it’s thus asinine to undertake.

All of that is rubbish. Even if people were willing to put on the slightest bit of pressure, it could result in major changes here, and for the better.

If the SFA had made a statement after Easter Road, condemning utterly the behaviour of the away fans, their own club would have been shamed into action, and a statement of their own at the very least.

Without that public shaming they will never be minded to take any action at all.

To remove these people from the stands once and for all will require a selection of people doing their damned jobs; the media for starters. The governing bodies. The club itself. The police. Civic Scotland should have weighed in years ago and they haven’t.

What amazes me most about what happened at Old Trafford is that the clubs themselves met with fan groups before it and demanded that they behave. Both managers made appeals before kick-off and asked for restraint and responsibility.

The Ibrox club engages with its fans all the time; what conversations went on over that disgusting chant? What do they think keeping it in house will achieve?

Celtic at least tackled the Green Brigade issue openly, and communicated its displeasure not only to the rest of the fans but to the rest of Scottish football.

Our club put the biggest fan group on notice over its behaviour and banned them from our ground and away matches. That’s how seriously we took that matter.

You can debate whether or not it has worked, but in my view the fans in question are taking a big risk if they don’t believe there will be another ban if they go too far.

That’s what taking things seriously looks like. The rest of Scottish football can sneer at us all it wants and clubs can threaten to ban us, but nobody can say we’ve not taken these matters sufficiently seriously, or that we have failed to take action.

English football has shown us up here, and not for the first time. It’s not just on the pitch that they leave us in the dust.

There is a professionalism and modern thinking at every level of their operation down there. They have refs declaring allegiances. The top flight has financial fair play, and yesterday Forest were the latest club deducted points for breaching it.

They are getting a regulator and fan protections under the law. And they do not want the scourge of “tragedy chanting” in their grounds and are determined to root it out whatever that takes.

Those who claim to care about our game should be watching them with the deepest shame that we don’t show the same commitment to these matters, but this one especially. Their action stands out a mile when you see how utterly our governors have failed to.

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  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Don’t see much chance of it happenin here. Religious, along with Irish racial hate and intolerance, is far too ingrained intae SW Scotlands society at every level for it tae be addressed properly. Certainly not in our lifetime. Sad indictment on our country.

  • John Copeland says:

    That guy the Scottish Sun use as it’s ‘chief ‘ sports scoop has strongly condemned the ‘yobs ‘ who flip the bird to big Pip Clem – on in Glasgow’s streets …big woopty doo ! If he was half as fervent and critical in his absent condemnation to the bigoted singing and chants inside certain grounds from fans every week , we might not have such behaviour which would be out of place in the Mesozoic age and embarrass a Troglodyte ! By the way if you were ever to meet the brilliant and superb musician ,Lee Sklar ,in the street ,he would be dejected if you did NOT flip him the finger . It’s so evident what the SMSM and other platforms have as their priorities in wee Scawlin ‘ ?

  • Dan says:

    As long as fans turn up in their thousands, nothing will ever happen up here. I would love Celtic fans to totally boycott Scottish Cup games, including the final if they get there. Paying customers can force change, what sponsor would touch the Scottish cup if one of the favourites fans ignored it.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Was going to suggest that along with

    a new Head of Refereeing Operations

    being recruited from outside Scotland,

    the same should apply to the SFA CEO.

    But, then Stewart Regan came from

    English cricket – and was arguably our

    worst, most corrupt CEO we’ve had at


    (And that takes some doing.)

    Don’t know what the answer is,

    but I do know that I want my club

    to speak up much more often,

    loudly and publicly.

  • Captain Swing says:

    It’s because ay thae kafflick schools….

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    The media, The Governing Bodies, The Police, The Clubs, And Civic Scotland doing their jobs James…

    Nice ideology indeed – But not a snowballs chance in hell of it happening here for sure…

    I hate admitting England is better than Scotland at things in life but in football both on and off the park they are Gazillions of light years ahead – especially off the field of play…

    That said – With The SFA and SPFL that certainly wouldn’t be difficult !

  • Effarr says:

    If they can`t punish everyone, then they should punish those who encourage it, namely, in this case, OLD FIRM SEVCO. There`s more of a song and dance about “non-rangers fans” (Sun) showing indecency to Phillipe, as Neil Lennon lovingly refers to him, by showing the middle finger than there would be by “non-Celtic fans” singing the song about the famine. And by the way, when is Lennon going to stop prostituting himself? It is a bit embarrassing to watch.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      I’m sure Wee Lenny would far rather a middle finger than the bombs, bullets and boots that he received on a regular basis in The bestest wee country in the world !

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