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Bigotry towards John Daly from GERS fans!



A Threat We Must Not Ignore


Two incidents featuring two people I don?t have much time for are red flags that we should be taking seriously this weekend.


I watched last night?s game between Cardiff and Norwich and observed Craig Bellamy mouthing off at a section of the crowd after scoring the leveller for Cardiff. I wondered what had been said to him as he was clearly reacting to abuse and also wondered whether or not it was his own fans he was bickering with.


The post-match interview provided the answer. Bellamy was clearly upset by the treatment he and his team mates had been receiving from their own support. ?That?s not like them. That?s not what happens here.?


Bellamy ? who has been the rounds at many clubs and is well-used to dishing out and getting stick ? was visibly shocked at the level of abuse being meted out by his own team?s fans.


This is a growing and worrying trend in football. Many fans are becoming increasingly loutish and thuggish toward players and officials of their own teams. The recent Ibrox boardroom crisis saw Rangers directors being verbally abused in front of their own children and fans talking about torching directors? cars. Celtic have also experienced hooliganism which was carried out at other grounds by the uber faction of their support as a protest against the Celtic board.


I have personally witnessed and been informed of incidents throughout the game where club directors have been abused, vilified and intimidated by their own so-called supporters.


It all points to a culture of abuse and frankly, it is not about sectarianism. Which means the religious and racial legislation recently brought out is not an adequate legal mechanism to deal with the problem.


The second incident was the disgraceful treatment of Neil Lennon yesterday at Tynecastle. By all accounts, the Celtic manager had to leave the game between Aberdeen and St Johnstone early because he was being pelted with coins, bottles and generally abused.


Herein lies the rub.


You can?t really claim that there was any religious or racial element to this type of behaviour. I seriously doubt the perpetrators were attacking Lennon because he is a Roman Catholic or because he is an Irish nationalist.


Neil Lennon was attacked because he is hated.


It might not have been racist or religious but it was bigotry in one sense i.e. if you believe that blind hatred is bigotry, then if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck?


Hatred of a person is not a crime. Depending on how one goes about expressing that hatred, it could become something criminal. Throwing objects intended to hurt is certainly criminal and hurling abuse is definitely a breach of the peace.


But that?s just legalese.


The real problem in football is not sectarianism or racism. These are expressions of hate. No, the real problem is hate itself.


Football in the 21st century is a breeding ground for hate but that hate is now turning inward and becoming self-cannibalistic. Sadly, Rangers is a perfect example where open hatred of the board and pro-board fans is clearly demonstrated by the rebels. I get messages of the vilest abuse constantly from these people, far more than from Celtic fans.


Most Rangers fans have taken well to Jon Daly but there is an undercurrent of bigotry toward him.


Celtic fans are not much different. Much has been made recently of the abuse dished out to Angela Haggerty but, as has been pointed out, nothing said to Miss Haggerty by David Limond was anywhere nearly as abusive as some things said to her by her fellow Celtic fans.


This new culture of hate and abuse is no longer confined to tribal boundaries. There is no doubt that it is fuelled by the social media craze. Louts that no-one would listen to twenty years ago suddenly now have a platform to display their lack of breeding and intelligence ? and think this then gives them justification to continue their anti-social behaviour in the real world.


I?m not a shrinking violet. I started watching Rangers in the late sixties/early seventies so I grew up in the heyday of hooliganism at the football. And I have been known to engage in drink-fuelled loutish behaviour myself as a younger man.


But, like others, I sense an ugly new attitude rising in football that, if not confronted and dealt with, could threaten the game itself.


One thing to consider is this: There are so many things that are now taboo to abuse ? homosexuality, religion, race etc. For those who happily vented hatred and abuse at stuff like this, it is now increasingly likely that they will get their collar felt or encounter the ire of other fans.


In other words, the doors are closing on abuse of causes, faiths, races etc.


So people who like to abuse are resorting to personal abuse more and more.


What is even more scary is that this drive to abuse is so strong in others that, in the absence of a suitable other to abuse, they will happily abuse their own.


Hating and abusing others or hating and abusing your own ? both are serious problems that are a threat to the future of football in particular and society in general.

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If Daly's getting any stick, it's because he's rotten, not anything more sinister. Is this the same McMurdo that vehemently defended one of our directors threatening to throw someone down a flight of stairs? That's a tad more worrying that someone abusing Lennon, or calling Daly pish.

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I really don't understand why McMurdo would write this nonsense.


I've never come across any ill-feeling towards Daly - the complete opposite in fact. Sure, criticism has perhaps increased recently as his performances haven't been as good but there has been no religious element to it whatsoever.

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