In the wake of Rotherham United defender Kirk Broadfoot being handed a ten match ban by the English FA for aiming sectarian abuse at Republic of Ireland international James McClean, fans of Broadfoot’s former club Rangers have praised and celebrated the former Scotland international.
McClean, now at West Bromwich Albion, was alleged to have dived to win a free kick during Wigan’s 2-1 win over Rotherham back in March – this resulted in the defender targeting McClean with comments that breached Rule E3(1).
Rule E3(1) is: an “Aggravated Breach” where it includes a reference, whether express or implied, to any one or more of the following :- ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation or disability.
Wigan scored from the resulting free kick.
Broadfoot, who played 118 games for Rangers between July 2007 to September 2012, is now seen as a hero to elements of the Rangers support over his abuse of McClean.
Why? Well it seems that these elements have taken exception to McClean’s decision to turn his back on the English flag and the national anthem during West Brom’s pre-season tour to the USA.
This followed on from the Irishman’s continued refusal to wear a poppy in the month of November during matches that fall over the remembrance weekend.
McClean’s reasons for taking his stance revolves around the actions of the British government – particularly the military in Northern Ireland and the Bloody Sunday incident.
Those Rangers fans, who are staunchly pro-British and celebrate Armed Forces Day as if the British Empire was still in its heyday, see McClean as a traitor, an enemy of the state, as a republican terrorist sympathiser and to add to their hatred of the Irish international – he has supported rivals Celtic since he was a boy.
On the Rangers forum, Follow Follow, which was born from the sectarian fanzine* of the same name – fans voiced their support for Broadfoot and denouncing McClean.
Wave after wave of abuse – offensive, bigoted and all painting Broadfoot as a hero – was posted on the fan forum run by a man who has been used by the Scottish mainstream media as a spokesperson for Rangers fans over the past few years.
Listed below are some of the comments posted:
Follow Follow member Govanx said: “I’m in hero worship mode here. Well in big man! Fkin loving it! Meanwhile that **** can continue with his Fenian shit without fear of retribution. Fkin sad!”
Invernesscaleywho posted: “Big Kirk a real bluenose and one of us, copped some shit from some of the FF Maradona’s in here. If the story is true well done the big man. F#ck McClean, inbred scum.”
HMS added: “That is a ****ing joke, that scumbag insults our nation every day he wakes up and Kirk tells him the truth. McClean is a vile ****ing terrorist loving ****wit. I hope he suffers a career threatening injury.”
HBurgh_bear said: “Only one Kirk Broadfoot! The sooner McClean breaks his neck playing football the better.”
Leerfc51 wants the Rangers fans at Easter Road over the weekend to pay tribute to their former defender in song, he commented: “Good man Kirk is, he deserves a acknowledgment for his services and commitment to the cause from the traveling support at Easter Road tomorrow which I am sure will happen.”
These are just some selected posts from one specific Rangers fan forum, there are a multitude of other posts on numerous Rangers forums all lauding Broadfoot and targeting McClean with vile abuse and bigotry.
Friday’s article in the Herald by Gerry Braiden, which reported on Broadfoot’s ban, highlighted the fact that the English FA implemented UEFA’s strict liability policy – this led to Broadfoot being hit with one of the biggest bans imposed for ‘verbal abuse’.
The English FA put our own Scottish FA and clubs to shame for refusing to impose UEFA’s policy in our game to help take action against those perpetrating sectarianism, bigotry and hate filled bile. This impotence has seen a rise of the sort of bigotry that is being aimed at McClean and that is being sung and chanted from the terracing.
So while these individuals are allowed to peddle their hate filled bile, then surely McClean has every right to stand up for his own beliefs. The incidents that McClean has hit the headlines over is not about hating British people – the Derry-born footballer cannot pay tribute to the British Army, including its commander-in-chief the Queen. Can you really blame him?
Do such political beliefs have a place in football? You can argue that politics should not be brought into football stadiums and I am certainly a backer of this, but when you have the Americans playing national anthems before their games and clubs parading the Armed Forces in their stadiums – then surely those whose stance differs from those glorifying the long dead British Empire should be allowed to have their say also – free from abuse, from hatred and from threats of violence?
Does McClean’s actions differ from those of American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony in the 1968 Olympics?
Smith and Carlos took their place on the podium before they bowed their heads and raised their clenched fists in the air as the American national anthem was played. At the time, the protest was linked to the then militant Black group – the Black Panthers – but in Smith’s autobiography published later – the gesture was a ‘human rights salute’.
The fact that Broadfoot is being lauded and hero worshipped for sectarian abuse says a lot about those supporting the former Scotland international. And its not positive.
McClean has ever right to choose not to wear a poppy and to not face an English flag or sing the British national anthem.
From my own experiences and beliefs – I wear a poppy every November to commemorate those who fought for our freedom during the two world wars. I don’t wear it to celebrate the British Armed Forces or to celebrate war nor the state who sent so many to their deaths.
I also do not sing the British national anthem when others around me do so – I stay silent. The English-based school that I went too during my A’Level studies would have students sing the national anthem each Sunday morning at church – attendance was complusory but I chose to stay silent at the national anthem. Did my stance disrespect anyone? Not in the slightest.
McClean should be the one praised for standing by his beliefs rather than conforming like sheep who is afraid of upsetting the apple cart and stepping out of the PC party line which we seem to be as a nation nowadays.
Broadfoot, meanwhile, should be held accountable and shamed for his abuse of McClean. He should not be lauded nor paraded as a hero. This is a guy who as a footballer was criticised and abused regularly by Rangers supporters for his poor performances in a Rangers jersey – now he is labelled a legend, a real bluenose and one of the people!
You really can’t make it up! I fully expect to see Broadfoot doing a tour of supporters clubs as a guest speaker once he retires making a living off this solitary disgusting incident.
* Former Rangers owner Sir David Murray banned Mark Dingwall’s Follow Follow fanzine from being sold in and around Ibrox for its sectarian and bigoted content.