Imagine if someone were to organise a crowd of sixty thousand, or even ten percent of them, into loud chanting of songs and slogans which supported and glorified such people or organisations as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or Osama Bin Laden. Imagine that the songs described unthinkable atrocities they had inflicted or desired to inflict, upon those who would oppose their allegiance to such groups. Now imagine the reaction of society to such an occurrence. There would surely be outrage throughout the UK, Europe and beyond.
Why then do we routinely allow thousands of people in football stadiums to behave in a similar way? With songs and chants promoting religious hatred and intolerance, with reference to groups and participants in wars and terrorism which took place in Ireland, over a period of centuries. Shouldn't this, by now, be confined to the history books?
There appears to be insufficient will on the part of football authorities to take action to eradicate such behaviour and it also seems, at least until recently, that there has been little political will on the part of government to take tangible action towards dealing with this problem. Former First Minister, Jack McConnell, rightly described it as “Scotland’s Shame.” Additionally the current First Minister, Alex Salmond, noted that “There is no place for sectarianism in our game.”
Although many debates and newspaper columns have been devoted to the subject of sectarianism, it seems that very little has changed or improved. Indeed, it may take generations to eradicate this problem entirely.
If we needed reminding of that, some events surrounding Glasgow football and some of its personalities during last season would suggest that the issue is as much a matter of concern and of national embarrassment, as it was in 2003, when Mr. McConnell’s assembly introduced a new law by which courts can apply additional sentencing if an offence is shown to be aggravated by sectarianism or bigotry....