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The Bully Boys of UEFA are picking on us!

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After yesterday’s news that Rangers are facing more disciplinary action from UEFA following sectarian singing during their Europa League match against PSV Eindhoven, with a heavy fine and fans banned from three European games set to be imposed.

However it seems that the representatives of Rangers supporters believe that they are being hard done by, and that they are being selectively picked on because they are from a small nation.

Listening to some of the football phone-in’s last night, we heard the usual opening lines from every Fan Rep – “I deplore all forms of sectarianism and racism” – but they then fail to condemn their own fans for singing such songs as The Billy Boys and The Famine Song. Both deemed sectarian and racist respectively by organisations and the courts in Scotland. In fact several of these so-called Fan Representatives claimed that The Famine Song was in fact mere banter and not racist as the Irish are not a race.

However the whole defence against their sectarian singing, seems to be centred on ‘Whataboutery!’ If they wanted to really stamp out sectarianism and racism within the Rangers support then they would look to solve their own issues before turning their attentions on those other perpetrators, they conveniently roll out everytime the Ibrox side is placed in the dock.

Regular apologist, Stephen Smith, Chairman of the Rangers Supporters Trust believes the club is an ‘easy target’.

He said, “If we’re going to make clubs liable for the behaviour of their supporters then I wouldn’t expect a single Russian club to be allowed to compete in Europe given the racist and anti-Semitic stuff that is regularly heard at these games,” he added. There were also similar chants at the north London derby about Spurs fans being sent to Auschwitz, there are songs about the Munich air disaster, as well as regular homophobic and other offensive songs chanted at almost every game I’ve ever seen.

“We’re looking for equity and consistency. We believe Rangers being singled out is exactly the opposite of that. We’re an easy target. Scotland is a smaller footballing nation and that’s why action is rarely taken against Italian, English, Spanish or German clubs for any misbehaviour.”

However the former spokesman of the Rangers Supporters Trust, David Edgar (who was chased out of the post by threats and intimidation by Rangers fans – his claims not ours) defended the singing of the Famine Song claiming that it was satirical rather than racist. Despite the song being attacked by politicians in Scotland and Ireland, as well as the club asking their fans not to sing it or they would face arrest. Sadly the Police have continually failed to hold up their end of justice in regards to the singing of said songs.

The highest court in Scotland disagreed with Edgar and his cohorts at the Trust, and deemed it racist in a case that found one Rangers fan William Walls guilty of sectarian breach of the peace. That decision, and the Trust’s continued defence of the song merits that the RST should be deemed a racist organisation, who condone their own fans singing racist songs but are quick to jump on their soapbox when another club has similar indiscretions.

The President of the Rangers Supporters Assembly, Andy Kerr said, “If there is a specific complaint against us, from a specific match, then fair enough, but what would be interesting to know is the background. I’m led to understand that the UEFA and security debrief after the match went fine. On the broader front, there’s a feeling among the fans that there’s an unhealthy spotlight on Rangers. UEFA govern a huge number of fixtures across Europe and we see footage on TV from time to time of some horrendous behaviour, then very little of action or sanctions being taken. By all means, if we’ve dropped below standards and there’s a case to answer, then we should be treated the same as everybody else, fair and equitable treatment across the piece.”

However a UEFA spokesperson claimed that the governing body would take action on the club as there had been a comment place within the match delegates support about, ‘inappropriate singing’. A comment that provoked ‘the enemy within’ hunt now by Rangers fans.

Kerr added, “There’s been a lot of discussion and action to try [to remove the Billy Boys element among the support], but there’s a small element who won’t do anything about it and that’s the way to stand up for ourselves now. We need to set a standard and live up to it. If we adhere to it, we’ve got nothing to worry about. The regular core of fans who go to watch Rangers don’t condone the extreme sectarian, racist [views]or bad behaviour. If there was a five-minute solution to his, we would have found it long ago. There is a part of me that does think [that it will take a heavy UEFA sanction to make an impact], but I hope it doesn’t come to that. There was a minority that thought the UEFA thing’s all bluff, but I’m certain it isn’t and that they take it seriously. All our fans need to understand we’re not in a strong position.”

Rangers have done a significant amount of work to try to rid the club of sectarianism, bigotry and racism. However the continued permission given to the racist British National Party outside Ibrox on match days, not to mention giving tickets to said perpetrators of the songs and chants deem Rangers to be guilty as much as the fans, and the excuse that ‘we have tried everything we can’ is just not good enough, an excuse that won’t wash with UEFA either.

And at the recent League Cup Final how many of those 25,000 Rangers fans were singing The Billy Boys and The Famine Song? It was certainly no minority on that day. In attendance within the Press section, it was clearly evident that the song was being sung by the majority.

RST Chairman Stephen Smith then claimed that, “this has emanated from people in Scotland who have their own sectarian agenda against Rangers. There’s an obvious agenda at work from journalists, politicians and other people who are not friends of Rangers and who are peddling their own sectarian agenda.”

So more whataboutery from Smith, yet he has failed to come out and denounce the singing of said songs at all. No comment on the RST website or social networking sites to date.

And Smith could not help himself by bringing Celtic into the issue, I bet he was foaming at the mouth waiting for the moment to bring in his club’s greatest rivals into the equation.

He slevvered, “There’s a great deal that comes from the Celtic support that I find offensive, songs in favour of sectarian organisations. But there’s not even a whiff of anything happening in that direction.”

I’m sorry Stephen but haven’t Rangers fans been reminding Celtic fans that they have not been in Europe for months now? So why would UEFA take action on a club that has not been playing European Football since August? UEFA do not take action against clubs domestically, that is down to the nation’s governing body in Scotland’s case, The SFA.

It’s all whataboutery once more from the Rangers Supporters Representatives, but rather than looking to stop the singing they are looking to pass the blame onto someone else. Heres the thing lads. If you didn’t sing the songs in the first place, no one would be punishing Rangers Football Club and its fans.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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