Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Racism In Football

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Kenny Stewart
Chief Football writer for The 4th Official. Always honest and won't shy away from the truth.

Tribalism. That’s what supporting a football club ultimately is. If you follow a team, then those that do so with you are part of you.

I support Rangers, and I go to Ibrox Stadium to watch my team. I’ve done it for so long now, and it’s still the greatest sight I’ve ever seen.

Walking down towards the place, I still get to see that incredible red Welsh brick facade, and I can honestly tell you it still fills me with awe reserved only for Rangers. It’s synonymous with the football club.

Even recently, I had to travel to take my partner to visit her dad in the QE2 Hospital and would pass it daily. Yet, as has always been in my case, every single time I did, I found myself looking to my right and proclaiming “home of the Champions Tracey!”

That place is like our tribes’ home. It is beautiful to each and every one of us. A place to call home. An amphitheatre of pride and comfort. Where no matter what the opponent throws at our team, our fans can have an influence on the game by backing the side through thick and thin.

To the rest of Scottish society, it’s been cast as some kind of portal to another world though. A world where Catholics are despised or a place where intolerance levels see fifty thousand alienated members of society hate anything and everything that isn’t British, Protestant Rangers or Unionist.

What a load of old tosh. Ibrox is a place of diversity that has a feeling of togetherness. Neither I nor any of the other tens of thousands that sit there on match day could care less about the guy sitting next to me. He or she is a Rangers fan. I couldn’t care less if they’re black, white, Hindu, Sikh, Catholic, Muslim, Buddist or Protestant, and from where I’ve been all these years, not one single Rangers fan thinks much differently.

He or she is a Rangers fan in that stadium to cheer on the players in blue shirts.

I’m being absolutely serious here when I ask the question, “what makes the media, influencers and politicians of this country think otherwise?”

The rhetoric of recent years from our media is such that if you’re ‘media brain’ (what was once described to me by an old friend), then you would believe that Rangers fans are the only section of society that doesn’t believe in cultural diversity. A fanbase that has zero tolerance for anything or anyone other than themselves.

How ridiculous does that sound? In case it’s escaped the attention of those within the media or those that wish to use it to influence, there’s doctors, bankers, accountants, business owners, surgeons, engineers, chemists, surveyors, IT developers, web designers and countless other professionals sitting there supporting their team.

Do they honestly believe that each and every person sat/stood there watching Rangers are bigots and racists?

No. Of course, they don’t, but they do tend to get away with tarring us all with the same brush, don’t they?

Recently we’ve had Nil By Mouth attack Rangers for the use of a song in a promotional video. An attack on their diversity campaign and an assault on the use of the 4 Lads song.

Talk about being out of touch or, rather more sinisterly, having an agenda that says you’re anti sectarian while proving you only wish to target one form of racism while quite deliberately ignoring all other aspects of it that damage society and breeds contempt.

Their online presence chose to chastise Rangers for using a perfectly legitimate choice of song, and I was ecstatic with Rangers’ response to their bullshit.

A week later, the new chairman of St Mirren football club acted in such a manner on Twitter beyond the pale. Wishing Rangers fans dead whilst proclaiming the club’s fans “Huns” constantly on social media was “derogatory” according to this anti sectarian charity.

Needham should resign. If that were the Chairman of Rangers Celtic, Aberdeen, Hibs or Hearts, he would have been forced to do so, but this is the country we now live in. A place where football chairmen are allowed to throw disgusting terms about without fear of repercussion the guy brass necked it. Sweated it out, and he still sits as the St Mirren chairman today. I actually find that says more about St Mirren football club and what’s endemic in our society.

We also had Celtic fans singing racist, sectarian songs at an away game recently. Want to know what Nil By Mouth thought of that?

It was “depressing.” Yes, it is depressing but I’ll tell you what else it is; it’s racist, but yet again, the refusal to condemn all forms of racism and bigotry only highlights that it’s one rule for Rangers and another for the rest of Scotlands’ tiny minded.

They should have their charity licence taken away from them. They aren’t fit for purpose while they choose to only target (wrongly) one football club whilst at the same time suggesting anyone else being racist, well that’s unfortunate, and maybe a donation to the Rangers Charity will give you absolution and heal you of your racist mind.

Even this week, we had some chap from Hibs. No idea who he is or what he does, but there he was having a go at the “blue half of Glasgow”. This was something to do with his club being riddled with Covid, but aye, somehow he managed to ascertain that Rangers had something to do with it. Look closer to home, pal. Your manager or your players fu*ked up somewhere, but aye, deflect away from your own issues and blame Rangers.

That’s what Rangers are up against. Two prominent board members at SPFL clubs think they can attack Rangers or Rangers fans because they have no fear of any comeback.

Let’s just ask what would’ve happened if the St Mirren chairman had used similar words against Celtic fans on a bridge and suggested he hoped the bridge would collapse?

Frontpage news, on every radio news bulletin and the leading story on every TV station’s news programme, no doubt in my mind about that. That’s exactly where it would be.

Now, here’s the thing. Why aren’t Rangers and those that follow the club being shown the same equal rights? Parity, equality and tolerance are everything that anti racism stands for. Or am I missing something here?

We’ve had laws made in this country and laws repealed in recent years simply because those that chose to enforce their new laws realised it would affect all sections of society and make criminals of racist bigots regardless of the football colours they wear. The Offensive Behaviour at Football Act was the biggest act of hypocrisy this county has witnessed in the twenty first century. That law was made to target Rangers fans without a single acknowledgement to the fact the rest of Scottish society has no idea of how racist or bigoted it truly is.

That’s the real issue here. Whilst bought and paid for charities, MSP’s, pundits, media outlets and all those pious bigots who have the comfort blanket of believing it’s perfectly acceptable or even normalised to hate Rangers aren’t intelligent enough to comprehend that they are themselves racist and more so than ninety nine percent of the Rangers support.

The use of the word Hun is sectarian. It’s a derogatory term for Protestants. That is a fact, but here we sit in this little backwater of a country being told, “aye but it’s OK because it’s only talking about Rangers fans or players.”

I’ll say it yet again, those that think it’s allowed in this country believe the law is on their side.

Those that use it have no right whatsoever to determine what’s offensive or racist in exactly the same way that those using the opposite equivalent (and WE ALL KNOW what that is) has the right to call people by those racist terms.

Racism and eradicating it is something we all must strive for but here in Scotland, the act of elimination of bigotry, sectarianism and racism is a political agenda aimed only at one section of society. It’s a complete misnomer. No one in this country wants to see racism, but to pretend to wish to suppress it, you have to show that all members of society are equal.

How can you attempt to do that when people at the top of football clubs use racist terms against other clubs’ fans? In what way does a charity set up to aid the eradication of sectarianism help when it refuses to acknowledge that fans of a particular club are being sectarian while suggesting a song has connotations when it quite clearly doesn’t?

Racism is a belief that someone’s race determines their worth or their abilities. It creates a hierarchy that certain people are superior to others. When you align that to people with influence and power, that becomes systematic racism, which leads to laws being changed, advancing the idea that those who are changing these laws are doing so in the knowledge that they are correct to do so. However, what they are, in fact doing is deliberately discriminating against certain sections of society, and this is what we have in Scotland right now.

A courtyard that genuinely believes it’s criminal to call someone a ‘Fenian’ while thinking the use of the term ‘Hun’ isn’t. That in itself is discrimination. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to take a long hard look at themselves.

I can honestly sit here and say quite assuredly that there’s very little impartiality in this country. What happens when anti-racism organisations are going out of their way to ignore elements in society while finding moral outrage when there is none? Well, you have a serious problem.

That’s the issue. Scotland does have a problem with racism. With misogyny, with gay rights, with all forms of discrimination, but when charities set up years ago consider it acceptable to highlight one aspect of a societal issue while putting the onus on a football club at the same time as playing to the lowest common denominator, then this country is in danger of losing all sense of reason and reality.

Rangers have their ‘Anyone Everyone’ campaign, and they should be lauded for it. Yet, here we are witnessing a supposed anti sectarian charity being derogatory towards it and questioning the validity of it. That is both dangerous and stokes the flames of hatred within our backward society. It’s quite deliberate too. It’s that “Rangers bad” mantra that allows the perception that Scotland is a diverse and open country with only one area of concern.

That in itself is disgraceful, and it’s transparent. Do as I say, not as I do, is the thought process throughout Scottish society. There is absolutely nothing worse than a person being racist or discriminatory, knowing it too but thinking they can get away with it.

That’s what’s happening in Scotland. What was once considered tribalism is now political agenda, racism and a pretty blatant attempt to class a section of society as something it isn’t.

Football is a form of tribalism; no one is naive enough to ignore the political repercussions involved with religion or the forming of societal acceptability when it comes to such. However, no one will ever tell me that this congenital interloping, but with all my heart, I can honestly say this needs to be eradicated from our society. Too many organisations with a finger in the anti-racist pie and none of them attempting to do a single thing about it concerns me greatly.

An arrogance prevails and it’s born of ignorance with zero objectivity; that is all this is, and something needs to change.

The day Scotland accepts its parochiality and its own ignorance is the day it’ll be a much better place to live. Meanwhile, I’ll carry on getting called a Hun by chairmen of Scottish football clubs.

Editorial Note: I have a favour to ask you. Did you know this article was published first on our exclusive Patreon page? If you love Scottish football while sick and tired of the same old biased MSM coverage, this is for you. The 4th Official needs your support. Due to the unprecedented situation as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, the digital media space has been completely devastated. There has been a massive shortfall in revenue (even while viewership is up) as we scramble how to make sure that we go on with our daily job. We are proud to put up exclusive stuff on Scottish football as well as an early release of our podcast interviews with relevant personalities of the game (recent guests have been David Martindale, Matt Polster, Greg Docherty, Daniel Stendel & a lot more) on our Patreon account and hope you would support us in these tough times. We have supporters from at least 11 countries, and you can be too by chipping in just £2.99/month (or become an annual supporter). Become a proud Patron of The 4th Official!

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