Rangers fans are set to be hammered by UEFA with a three match European ban for singing sectarian songs, and the Ibrox side could also face a ‘heavy’ fine which could be as much as £100,000.
It was only last month that Michel Platini vowed to stamp out sectarianism and now it seems Europe’s governing body have had enough of the Rangers support ignoring previous warnings, and their club’s own pleas.
Platini said, “there is no place in football for those who transform passion into violence and pride into sectarianism. Every country should establish a battery of legal measures enabling them to ban hooligans from stadiums.”
UEFA have informed the Ibrox side that they should expect a hefty punishment because of sectarian singing and chanting, which the governing body state were sung during the Europa League match against PSV in Holland on March 10th.
Rangers have until next Thursday to sort out a defence and then a hearing will take place two weeks after that in Nyon, Switzerland.
Rangers Chief Executive Martin Bain commented on the Official Rangers website, “We are utterly dismayed to be informed by UEFA that it is to take disciplinary action against the Club. We will defend the Club’s position vigorously at the hearing which is scheduled for later this month.
“UEFA has already made clear in previous disciplinary hearings that sanctions against Rangers have been mitigated by the extensive work the Club does to tackle sectarianism. A high-ranking UEFA delegation also described our Club as exemplars of best practice in this area and only a few weeks ago the First Minister complimented us on the efforts we make as a Club.
“Our position regarding sectarian and offensive singing has been made clear time and again – we condemn it and those who indulge in it only damage the interests of the Club. We have worked closely with our supporters groups to try to deal with this issue and believe that few other clubs make as big an effort to tackle anti-social behaviour. We are not saying there is not a problem but we are saying that for many years now we have made strenuous attempts to address it.”
However despite Rangers trying to convince UEFA that they have done all they can to rid themselves of the bigoted element within their support, it is almost certain that their fans will be banned for the next three away matches in Europe.
This is the club’s FOURTH run-in with UEFA over Sectarian Singing & Chanting. In 2006 the club were fined £13,000 for discriminatory chanting and £9,000 for an attack on Villarreal’s team bus. And the following year, UEFA demanded they pay £8,280 after a UEFA Cup tie against Osasuna after violent scenes. And In 2009 the club were fined £18,000 after a Champions League match against Unirea Urziceni in Romania.
Rangers this season warned their fans before EVERY Home game not to sing sectarian songs or chants, however there are elements who have ignored the club’s pleas and continued to sing such songs and chants ‘loud and proud’. And because of this element the majority of Rangers fans will be punished severely.
A UEFA spokesman said, “For this kind of behaviour and the number of offences which is repeated the fine could be heavy – as much as 150,000 Swiss francs.”
However Rangers Chief Executive Martin Bain continued his robust statement which descended into ‘whataboutery’ and playing the victim card. He said, “We do, however, believe that it is absurd to think that only Rangers supporters sing offensive or sectarian songs. That is patently not the case and we are left to conclude that there is a disproportionate focus on Rangers. It has also become clear there are people who have been determined to undermine our Club at any cost and have constantly lobbied UEFA and other organisations to take action against Rangers.”
While I agree that Rangers are not the only club that have sung offensive songs, the defence of ‘what about others’ will not wash with UEFA. And if the songs and chants are heard as clearly as they were in the League Cup Final then, do the club really have any defence to that other than ‘what about Celtic?’
Even if songs are sung by other clubs, UEFA can only take them to task if it happens on the European stage and within the stadiums. Domestically it is the job of the nation’s governing body to punish the clubs, and with a recent Scottish Court verdict stating that some songs sung by the Celtic support are not sectarian, but political then do the SFA have a leg to stand on, unless the songs comes under the subject header of offensive. And banned under new proposals being formulated by the SFA and the SPL at present.
The question is though if UEFA are handing out a punishment for sectarian singing and chanting at one of their games, why are the SPL, SFA and SFL failing to punish the club for the singing of same songs & chants, which are clearly heard week in week out across Scotland. Are our countries governing bodies failing to take action against the Rangers support, hoping that they can hammer Celtic for the same thing? Do they have selective hearing and ignore such chants and songs? Or do they not think said songs are sectarian? If it is one of the three answers then our governing bodies must face the dock for failing to perform their duties.
One Rangers fan’s answer to the impending ban – BlueKidG on Follow Follow said, “I’ll tell you what I have a song which could be sung, and the whole of Ibrox should sing it on Easter Sunday. You’ll never see Tommy Burns again.”
Says it all really doesn’t it.
Source: Daily Record & Official Rangers website