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Nil by Mouth call for ‘strict liability’ principles in Scottish game

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Nil by Mouth campaign director Dave Scott has called on Scottish football’s governing bodies to adopt UEFA’s ‘strict liability’ principles after the SPFL failed to take action against Rangers or Celtic after their League Cup semi final clash at the start of February.

The first Glasgow derby in three years was marred by sectarian and racist singing from the Rangers support, while Celtic fans unfurled a number of offensive banners aimed at their city rivals.

Despite the scenes and hate-filled atmosphere at Hampden Park which was beamed worldwide, the SPFL have once again turned impotent in the face of clear sectarian and racial hatred.

Talking exclusively to Scotzine, Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said: “We have been calling for a number of years for UEFA’s ‘strict liability’ principles to be introduced into Scottish football but sadly clubs seems to run a mile from them. These allow governing bodies to impose sanctions ranging from fines to closing sections of grounds to docking points from clubs if repeated instances of offensive behaviour occur.”

“Our calls have been supported by the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Sectarianism and given the large amounts of public money poured into the game MSPs need to put pressure on the clubs to do the right thing and revisit the proposals.

“The English FA introduced ‘strict liability’ last year and have shown that it can be done and we need to follow its example here in Scotland.”

At this moment in time clubs can claim to have done everything in their power to prevent such incidents, but with a growing number of incidents over the past few seasons, it is clear that the clubs are failing to sort the issues out and the SPFL settle down to life as an impotent lap dog of their owner – the clubs themselves.

An SPFL spokesperson earlier in the week, said: “It is clear from information already received that ‎all parties prepared properly and thoroughly for the match and, to date, we have not seen any evidence of any breach of SPFL rules by either club.”

SPFL rules covering unacceptable conduct ‘at a stadium on the occasion of an official match’ sees the onus placed on the clubs to ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that its supporters do not engage in unacceptable conduct’.

In recent years, UEFA have punished both Celtic and Rangers for the actions of their fans be it singing, chanting or offensive displays – all the while these same supporters get away Scot-free domestically.

This is another clear sign of the power being in the hands of the turkeys rather than the cook and while this is still the case, Scottish football will still be seen as a hot bed for sectarianism throughout the rest of the UK and the world as a whole – all the while the SPFL count the days until such games are a regular occurence once again so they can count the money rolling in from sponsors and advertisers.

If we are to ride ourselves of sectarianism, racism and other offensive behaviour – the SPFL need to grow a backbone, appoint a chief executive that is not merely a patsy for the clubs and rip up their rules on unacceptable conduct and impose UEFA’s ‘strict liability’ principals.

If we do not then Scottish football will forever be plagued by the stain of sectarianism and the work that Nil by Mouth as well as the Scottish government would have been pointless.

The ball is in the SPFL’s court…. I wonder if they will do anything about it?

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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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