Football Brings Out Sectarian Tensions in Scotland

By Simon Miller, Epoch Times
May 20, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Manager Neil Lennon of Celtic, flanked by police officers, looks on as the crowd sing 'You'll never walk alone' at the end of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match between Celtic and Motherwell at Celtic Park on May 15, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland.   ( Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Manager Neil Lennon of Celtic, flanked by police officers, looks on as the crowd sing 'You'll never walk alone' at the end of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match between Celtic and Motherwell at Celtic Park on May 15, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland. ( Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
The Scottish premier league season reached its climax on Sunday with the two arch rival teams, Celtic and Rangers (collectively known as the “Old Firm”), vying for the championship. An emphatic 5-1 win by Rangers against Kilmarnock FC saw Rangers win the competition. This concluded a season marked by a series of incidents underpinned by long-standing rivalry between Celtic's mainly Roman Catholic supporters of Irish origin and Ranger's mainly Protestant fans.

Much of the trouble has centred on Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who has received parcel bombs and bullets in the post. He has also been on the receiving end of an internet hate campaign and death threats. Two men in their 40s were remanded in custody last Friday charged with sending viable parcel bombs to Lennon and prominent Celtic supporters in March and April.

In a separate incident, a 26-year-old Edinburgh man was charged with assault aggravated by religious prejudice after he clambered from the Hearts FC section of the main stand onto the pitch last Wednesday and allegedly attacked Lennon before being overpowered by security.

Lennon, a prominent Catholic from Northern Ireland, has been accused of having a provocative demeanour towards Rangers fans at certain matches, such as cupping his ears at jeering Rangers fans. He has defended himself saying "That's something called humour”.

Lennon has called for an end to offensive chanting by Celtic fans. In a club statement he said: “In recent times, unfortunately there has been a re-emergence from a small minority, of some of the singing and chanting which is simply not acceptable around our club. This has no place at Celtic Park or at any of our matches and it must be tackled. All this does is tarnish the great name of Celtic and embarrasses the club."

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has recently convened a football summit to try and address the issues. He said in a statement that "The Joint Action Group formed after the recent football summit is developing the eight-point plan to present to ministers before the start of the new season to tackle all issues of violence and bigotry in relation to football, because we cannot have the safety of individuals endangered by such mindless incidents, and our national game tarnished."

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