Thursday, September 15, 2011

UEFA order Celtic to play behind closed doors

After the violence by Celtic fans at Celtic Park and Old Trafford at previous matches against Rapid Vienna, UEFA ordered Celtic to play Atletico Madrid behind closed doors.

Police probe hate campaign against former Celtic teenager

Published Date: 15 September 2011
By Cameron Hay

Police are trying to trace Celtic supporters who launched a hate campaign against a promising 16-year-old footballer because he moved to an English club.
Hundreds of offensive comments were posted online by people angered by Islam Feruz's decision to move from the Parkhead club to Chelsea.

Officers from Strathclyde Police and the newly formed Football Co-ordination Unit for Scotland and are investigating following complaints from a number of fans.

A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the comments and the matter is being looked into with the appropriate action being taken by officers."

Hours after it was announced that the Somali-born player had left Celtic to join the London club, Feruz was subjected to hundreds of comments from so-called supporters.

On a Facebook page dedicated to the player - dubbed the Scottish Wayne Rooney - hundreds of hate-filled posts, littered with expletives, accused him of dishonouring the late Celtic legend Tommy Burns.

Others even wished the teenager serious injury for turning his back on the club.

Feruz arrived from Somalia in 2001 and made his first senior outing for Celtic in 2009.

He has joined Chelsea on a reported £2,500 per week.

Chelsea-Bound Islam Feruz Racially Abused By Angry Celtic Fans

Just hours after it was confirmed that striker Islam Feruz was swapping life at Celtic Park for the riches of Stamford Bridge, the Somali-born 16-year-old has been the victim of vile abuse by angry Celtic fans
On a Facebook page dedicated to Islam Feruz, hundreds of posts have been aimed at the youngster by disgruntled Celtic fans angered at his apparent dishonouring of Tommy Burns.
One such disgruntled Celtic fan, John Paul Monaghan stated: “Ya dirty wee c***, I hope you have a bad injury and never play fitbaw again ya wee p***k for everything the club has done for you and your family you go and sign for that shower of scumbags, consider yourself no longer part of the celtic family as a player or a fan, greedy wee f***ing p***k, HAIL HAIL.”
While another, Kevin Coll foamed at the mouth, saying: “Hope u break ur leg and end up back in somalia fucking scum bag!!”
The late Tommy Burns helped lobby government officials in a bid to prevent Feruz and his family being deported back to war-torn Somalia after they fled to the UK in 2001. After Burns’ death the Somali striker made his first ever senior outing for Celtic in the Tommy Burns’ memorial game in 2009, where he gave the Parkhead crowd glimpses of the talent that Burns though very highly of.
However, as we reported exclusively last month, Feruz was lured by the bright lights and riches of the English game and signed for Chelsea on a reported £2,500 per week wage, despite being eligible to sign professional terms with Celtic when he turned 16 – this month – the 16-year-old decided upon a move to Stamford Bridge where he will have to wait one more year to sign pro-terms with the English side.
Feruz’s agent Rui Alves confirmed the deal earlier today saying: “It is a massive step for Islam and for Scottish football. Now for him personally it is the beginning of a major adventure, he will have to work, work and work and raise his own level. Playing for a top club like Chelsea, where the major word in the squad is quality, will oblige him to show his own quality and deliver his best and convince the staff that he is more than just a major prospect.”
“He is looking forward to starting his career with Chelsea, but he would love to thank Celtic for all they did for him and his parents, he is Scottish and will one day score goals for Scotland.”
With Celtic set to receive a minimal compensation fee, this has enraged some of the clubs fans further.
Peter Mitchell fumed: “Money grabbing c*** I hope your family are proud of u where would they be if it wasnt for celtic and tommy burns ya ungrateful wee d**k.”
While Kev Kerr raged: “You’re a wee d******d Islam. Tommy Burns saved you from cowering from soldiers in a mudhut to give you a chance and you piss all over that mans grave. I’ll never cheer you in Scotlands colours you turncoat p***k.”
The level of abuse aimed at the 16-year-old footballer mirrors that aimed at Irish international Liam Miller who enraged the Celtic fans for choosing the riches of Manchester United over life at Celtic Park.
However the abuse has intensified from comments like ‘Judas, traitor and turncoat’ to derogatory and racist abuse. One hate-filled individual, Lynne Williams, said on Feruz moving to Chelsea: “This has confirmed one thing – you can’t trust Africans.”
Shay Kerins stated: “Your a scum bag, we fought for you to keep you in the country! wish you stayed in somalia, and get r***d by some pirate!”
Tommy Burns, the man dubbed Mr Celtic, would be turning in his grave over the abuse that his former protegĂ© was receiving at the hands of those so-called Celtic fans, who he adored.
A Celtic spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Celtic fans' militant drift 'damaging club'

11 September 2011

By Martyn McLaughlin

ONE of Scotland's most high-profile Catholics has warned that some of Celtic's fanbase is causing "untold damage" to the club's reputation by expressing support for international extremist groups.

James MacMillan, the celebrated classical composer, said he is worried about the "militant drift" some followers of the Glasgow club have taken and suggested its founder would be "turning in his grave" at the development. 

He added that while the fans' celebration of Irish nationalism is a "good thing", it is time to rid the matchday repertoire of "pro-violent" songs linked to fringes of the nationalist movement. 

His views are aired in a new book being published this week which charts the experiences of well-known Celtic supporters in Scotland and abroad. 

In We Are Celtic Supporters, written by journalist Richard Purden, the Kilwinning-born composer adds to the debate surrounding sectarian songs at football matches by suggesting Celtic fans should refrain from certain lyrics. 

He warns that the sentiments expressed recently by some fans go against the principles espoused by Brother Walfrid, the Irish Marist brother who founded the side after coming to Scotland in the 1870s.

MacMillan states: "I sometimes worry about the militant drift that some Celtic fans have taken. Obviously the support for Irish nationalism is a given, and that has been a good and defining thing in many ways, but a tiny minority have held on to the support for violent republicanism and that has done untold damage to Celtic's reputation and still does today. 

"Those people are now drifting to support other extreme nationalists in the Catalan district, Basque country and, God forbid, the extremists of Hamas and Hezbollah. Brother Walfrid (the founder of Celtic] will be turning in his grave."

MacMillan, who famously described sectarianism as "Scotland's shame" during a 1999 lecture he gave at the Edinburgh Festival and decried anti-Catholic bigotry, said Celtic should be viewed as both a Scottish and Irish institution. 

He explains: "The whole Celtic experience has been shaped by Irish history and that is an inescapable and generally very good thing, but I think we have got to a stage where Celtic fans need to have a really good look at their repertoire of songs, and if things are offensive for no good reason other than they are traditional songs, then we should ditch them. 

"All the pro-violent stuff should go. The truth is that they are going, they are gradually being filtered out. All the Irish cultural stuff is fantastic, but if there is any hint of songs giving succour to the more violent fringes of Irish nationalism then we should lose them."

MacMillan stops short of naming the songs that are his target, but he condemned the "malicious attempt" in some quarters to have Celtic's support stop singing The Fields Of Athenry.

He says he regards it as a "beautiful ballad" which people should "nurture" and "be proud of". 

He adds: "There needs to be a careful scrutiny of the words and what they represent. Irish rebel songs aren't sectarian; there's nothing wrong with centuries of legitimate political engagement giving rise to that sense of rebellion, but you absolutely must weigh up how things are affecting us now."

The debate surrounding sectarian singing has intensified following on and off the field problems surrounding recent Old Firm fixtures. Two men are to stand trial charged with a parcel bomb plot to kill Celtic manager Neil The Bigot and high-profile supporters of the club.

On Wednesday, the Scottish Government announced its intention to create a new offence to tackle offensive behaviour at football matches by the end of the year. 

Also last week, former Scotland international Pat Nevin told MSPs he was "driven away" from Parkhead after hearing IRA songs from Celtic fans. 

But Dr Jeanette Findlay, chair of the Celtic Trust, an organisation of supporters and shareholders, said MacMillan was wrong to "dictate" to Celtic fans which political causes they should support.

"James MacMillan is entitled to say he does not approve of songs he does not like at Celtic Park. That's a perfectly reasonable debate, but a problem with a lot of these discussions is that people are unwilling to say specifically what they mean.

"I don't think it's for him to dictate to people what their political views should be on international issues or issues closer to home."

A spokeswoman for Celtic FC said the club would not comment on the issues raised by MacMillan.

We Are Celtic Supporters will be published by Hachette Scotland on Thursday. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Celtic Supporters Trust defend support use of sectarian slur

'Hun' not a sectarian term, Celtic fans' chief tells committee

Calling opposing football fans "Huns" is not sectarianism, the chairwoman of a Celtic supporters group has told MSPs.

Jeanette Findlay, of the Celtic Trust, made the controversial claim to the Scottish Parliament's justice committee while giving evidence about Alex Salmond's planned crackdown on football-related bigotry.

"It's never been used to refer to a Protestant or any member of any religious group — it refers to a Rangers supporter," she insisted.

"And up until a few years ago Rangers supporters referred to themselves as Huns. It doesn't have any religious connotation whatsoever, it never has."

Ms Findlay compared it to Celtic fans being known as Tims, which she didn't find offensive, the committee heard.

"Sometimes it refers to Hearts because we call them the wee Rangers," she added. Her comments came as former Scotland player Pat Nevin revealed he had stopped taking his son to Celtic matches because of sectarian chanting in praise of the IRA.

Mr Nevin, who played in the 1980s and 90s for clubs including Chelsea, Everton and Motherwell, said he had been "driven from the club he loves" and hoped "good legislation would go through".

Meanwhile, Mark Dingwall, board member of the Rangers Supporters Trust, said Ibrox fans felt particularly targeted by the proposed new laws.

"What our fans and organisations have started to say is if we have to clean up our act, everyone else has to do the same."

"Fair game"
"So, therefore, everything that is offensive, by any football club, whether it's under regional rivalry, or under sectarian rivalry, or whether it's just winding up the opposition, then it's all fair game because if it's going to happen to us it's got to happen to everybody."

Derek Robertson, a former communications director at Dundee United, also gave evidence to the committee in his current role with supporters group ArabTRUST.

He urged for a clearer definition of what constituted a sectarian crime and claimed growing up in Dundee he had "never been exposed" to sectarianism.

Greig Ingram, board member of the Aberdeen FC Trust, also questioned the wisdom of criminalising chants without a specific definition of what was not acceptable.

He said: "Would somebody chanting about my predilections for alleged activities with farmyard animals be offensive?"

Fans of Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts football clubs were also represented at the session. And Abertay University sociology and criminology lecturer Dr Stuart Waiton said the bill risked creating an "authoritarian and illiberal society".

He also repeated claims, first made in The Courier, that the resultant bill, if enacted, risks being seen as a "snobs' law".

"Snobs' law"
"We have a form of west-end dinner party etiquette being demanded at football. This is genuinely what's happening. This is a snobs' law, potentially. We're targeting, specifically, football fans."

The committee has already heard evidence from security chiefs at both Rangers and Celtic as well as Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland and the chairman of the Scottish Police Federation.

The bill will create two offences on football-related behaviour regarded as offensive and threatening. One deals with disorder around matches, with the other relating to serious internet threats.

The legislation comes in the wake of high-profile incidents of football related sectarianism.

The SNP originally wanted to pass the bill before parliament went into recess ahead of the football season kicking off.

However, opposition parties raised concerns over the speed of change and First Minister Alex Salmond agreed it would not be rushed through.

Instead, the plans were opened up to further scrutiny with an aim to be in place on January 1.

Pat Nevin driven away by Celtic bigots


Former Scotland international Pat Nevin has told MSPs he was "driven away" from the football club he loved after hearing sectarian chants from Celtic fans when he was at Parkhead with his young son.
He also revealed the "intimidation" he felt after being targeted by the club and its fans when he criticised their chanting live on air at this season's Scottish cup final.

Nevin was giving evidence yesterday to Holyrood's justice committee on new laws to crack down on bigotry in the game.

Supporters branded the new laws "dangerous and anti-football" and warned that they have been introduced in a climate of "hysteria".

Nevin, now a media pundit, told MSPs he had grown up in the east end of Glasgow, where the club is based, and was part of the area's Irish catholic Diaspora.

"I supported Celtic for most of my life," he said.

"But one day, I found myself sitting in the stand with my son, who had started to take an interest in football, hearing the song Ooh ah, up the RA. 

"I could not accept bringing up my son alongside that, so I was driven away from the club that I loved. I was very disappointed about that."

Nevin was commentating for the BBC at this year's cup final between Celtic and Dundee United when he provoked the ire of the club when he hit out at a section of their fans over their chants.

He told MSPs: "The song went something like, 'As a young man, I'm going to join the IRA - provisional wing'. 

"It offended me and I do not want to hear it at a football ground. 

"I was shocked and surprised that Celtic Football Club and a great number of fans complained to the BBC, because I expect to hear them say that they do not want to hear that sort of song at their ground."

He also voiced disappointment at the club's "refusal to accept that there are problems" in recent years.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill aims to stamp out abusive behaviour from football fans whether they are watching matches in a stadium, in the pub or commenting online.

It would raise the maximum jail term from six months to five years, but was delayed amid concerns that it was being rushed through earlier this year.

But football fans yesterday dismissed the need for legislation.

Jeanette Findlay, chair of the Celtic Trust said: "It's unclear what types of behaviour would be criminalised.

"We think it's unhelpful that the bill would criminalise football fans - that would be young men up to the age of 25 who are already disproportionately presently in prison.

"We think it's dangerous. We think it's anti-football and it has no justification and any of the behaviours of a serious type are already covered by existing legislation."

She also clashed with Nationalist MSP Humza Yousaf over the use of the word "Hun" in chants at games, claiming it was not an offensive term.

"It's never been used to refer to a Protestant or any member of any religious group - it refers to a Rangers supporter," she said.

"And up until a few years ago Rangers supporters referred to themselves as Huns. It doesn't have any religious connotation whatsoever, it never has."

Mark Dingwall, board member of the Rangers Supporters Trust, told MSPs that fans have collectively decided that they are not going to be the only ones in the spotlight of this law,

He said: "If we see something that offends us. We're going to go after the opposition fans in the way that people have gone after us. So, you reap what you sow.

"The debate around football has been conducted in an air of unreality, both in regard to the behaviour of football clubs and the nature of Scottish society. But around football, we have this hysteria that paints Scotland as a very dark place to live."

Greig Ingram, board member of the Aberdeen FC Trust, said the legislation is already covered by a whole range of other legislation and said there needed to be a far clearer explanation of what sectarianism is.

"You don't make a rule that you can't enforce and it would be dangerous if this bill was passed just now because its unenforceable."

Dr Stuart Waiton, lecturer in sociology and criminology at the University of Abertay, Dundee, added: "This is a snobs' law, potentially.

"We're targeting, specifically, football fans.

"Not comedians, not anybody else, football fans - particularly rowdy football fans, ie rough, working-class blokes and lads who shout and sing songs for 90 minutes, and then go home to their Catholic wife and Protestant grandparents and so forth."
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