So, Rangers are hovering on the brink of yet another round of UEFA sanctions on the back of the alleged persistent sectarian behaviour of their fans in Europe. That’s all very well and comes as no great surprise, given their “previous” and the declared intention of the continental governing body to punish such unacceptable offending within its jurisdiction.
What of our own national governing body, though? What is it going to take for the SFA to start to implement its own rules and its commitment to come down hard on persistent sectarian singing and chanting on its patch – such as, by way of a particularly blatant example, at the recent CIS Cup Final in its own back garden?
You know … the immediate, prolonged and defiant instance of raw sectarianism that was a prominent component of the atmosphere that seemed to so impress our Cabinet Secretary for Justice and has since been largely ignored by all and sundry within the national powers that be – football authorities, government and police alike.
Anyone, like me, reminded here of a certain three monkeys?
It’s not as if the SFA can plead a lack of precedent for any action they may, however reluctantly, eventually settle upon. No, it need look no further than the example repeatedly shown by the higher legislative powers at UEFA (the latest case against Rangers will be the FOURTH of its kind against them). Yet, far from taking a lead from such clear guidance, the Scottish blazer brigade continues to display a degree of reticence that borders perilously on complicity. The unavoidable conclusion is that they are either afraid, reluctant, or (most likely) both, to crack down on the institution that is the most flagrant offender.
Could it be that they are (im)patiently waiting to pounce on any perceived opportunity that may present itself to act “even-handedly” against the “Old Firm” – the hoary old “two-sides-of-the-same-coin” routine that desperately seeks to tar Celtic and Celtic fans with the same dirty brush as their city rivals. If so, they must have been mightily discouraged by the recent case in which a sheriff bounced out a charge of sectarian breach of the peace against a man arraigned for singing politically motivated songs in public.
No-matter where anyone might stand on that contentious issue, which admittedly polarises opinion (including within Celtic ranks), the decision sets an interesting legal precedent of sorts. Recognising the difficulty that precedent presents for the potential pursuit of the sort of “even-handedness” referred to above, some even seek to redefine sectarianism (a very specific concept) to encompass behaviour that it suits their agenda to include but which, whatever it may be, is not sectarian.
Takes “moving the goalposts” into a whole new dimension, don’t you think, Bhoys? In that respect, though, there may be ominous undertones to this very morning’s police declaration of war on the “Old Firm” bigots.
Be warned … the lie is out there.