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Article submitted by Andy Steele: SDS Survey: No Issues? No Chance! News that a survey by fans' body Supporters' Direct Scotland has found that while the vast majority of fans felt the game in Scotland had no issues with racism or homophobia, it had a big, big problem with sectarianism. This highlights not just the issue of social attitudes and football, but, sadly, the problem people have with perceiving themselves as part of the problem. One can assume fairly safely that for such a result to be obtained a good proportion of respondents were either non-Old Firm fans, or if Old Firm fans, Celtic supporters. I would be willing to place a hefty wager that the only fans who feel strongly that there is little sectarianism in Scotland would be those supporters the others consider to be the problem: Rangers fans. One must always, in such debates, pander to the thin skinned and establish that yes, one does think there is an issue and yes, Rangers fans most of all need to deal with it. A major issue, though? I don't see it in my day-to-day life, though I may of course simply be lucky or blinkered. Having established that denial is not on the agenda, though, I'd like to examine the other two aspects mentioned, homophobia and racism. If Scottish football has no issue with racism it is because the game is played, watched, commentated on and written about in what is a virtual monoculture. The BBC can count Kheredine Iddeshane, who to guess from his name may be of middle east extraction, and STV Rhaman Bardwan, but that's about it. The sight of players from non-European backgrounds has diminished of late, while managers and chairmen are exclusively white. No racism? Well, maybe if we understand that creating an almost exclusively European ethnic identity for the game will go a long way to excluding those from without such a background, it may expain why there's 'no racism': there's no cultural mix in which it might appear. Perhaps, if we actively created an environment which encouraged diversity, and focused on policing the resultant mix effectively, we may find we're not quite so tolerant as we might like to think. Or we may not - who knows? Casual racism has certainly been part of my west of Scotland experience: I am inclined to believe that 'no issue' is a complacent and boastful conclusion not based on evidence. But since many have called long and loud for such an approach to sectarianism, it seems only logical to apply it to these other areas as well. And what about homophobia? 'Get fucking up, ya poofy cunt' is, for the student of English, a fascinating sentence, but it's hardly indicative of a tolerant atmosphere. You'll hear it, and variants thereon, at every ground every week when an opposition player is apparently injured, though: 'no issue'? When 'Off the Ball' described a poor flag as 'poofy' I actually, for the first time in my life, got off my arse and complained. I got a reply: it was drivel. Credit where it's due, though, the programme presumably realised they were out of order and have since addressed the issue interestingly and humourously. What the incident that riled me shows, though, is that many of us are actively discriminatory without even realising it: Stuart Cosgrove was no more actively trying to put down homosexuality than I am actively trying to create a Protestant theocracy when I sing 'No Surrender' at Ibrox. The effect, nevertheless, can be non-inclusive. My singing of that song is based on the fact that it creates a great atmosphere first and last, and not in any way because I care about or know about Irish or religious history. Others, though, hear my singing and feel excluded or offended by it. What to me is a noise is to others an insult - if Tom English, easily the best analyst of the game at the moment, is freaked out by it I have to think twice. That's not to say I will agree with him, but it gives pause for thought. Plainly all these issues are hyper-sensitive with absolutes thin on the ground, but there's simply no way we have absolutely 'no issue' with racism or homophobia. I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that in our game, all three of these issues exist to varying degrees, but only one is taken seriously and, conveniently, it's the one that can be blamed on someone else. Sectarianism deserves to be taken seriously, but so too do other forms of bigotry: not least sexism, which in Scotland remains rampant. I find women as sexually stimulating as the next man, assuming he's straight, but that's no reason to objectify them or base a professional appraisal on their chests or backsides: that's still the default position of far too many men. We've plenty issues which could do with being addressed both in the game and in the country, but the first step we take will have to be from our own front doors. Blaming everything on Rangers and Rangers fans while insisting the rest of the land is a paradise of tolerance and diversity is doing no-one any favours: a more honest appraisal of our own prejudices would reveal some or all of these issues, far from being non-existent, might be visible in the mirror tomorrow morning as you shave. http://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/latest-news/252-sds-survey-no-issues-no-chance