Charity calls for secrecy over sectarianism in football to end

Old firm web

Nil by Mouth has called for a report which details the extent of incidents which have taken place at football matches to be made public

17th June 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A charity has called on football bosses to reveal the true level of sectarianism in Scotland.

Nil by Mouth has said the SPFL’s silence on sectarianism is deafening, and called on a report on incidents that have taken place in football grounds to be made public.

Last season’s Scottish Premiership season was blighted by several high-profile sectarian incidents, ranging from ex-Kilmarnock (and now Scotland) boss Steve Clarke being subjected to sectarian singing to Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes being abused during a Scottish Cup semi-final.

Football authorities have prepared a report on all of the incidents that took place last season, but only agreed to hand it over to the Scottish Government and police on the condition that its contents remain secret.

Dave Scott, campaign director of Nil by Mouth, said it is vital that the details of the report are investigated.

He said: “When it comes to tackling sectarianism in football, it’s crucial the government and parliament don’t let the SPFL call the shots given its utterly dismal record of failure on the subject.

“Last year, a third of all Premier League managers had to speak out about repeated instances of abuse toward them from the stands.

“The silence from the SPFL to these problems is deafening. That is why we need this report to be published so the parliament’s health and sport committee can analyse and investigate the claims made within it.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our strong preference was, and remains, that SPFL should make the data publicly available. However, the information was provided to us on the condition that it was in confidence.

"That followed discussions between the Scottish Government, Scottish FA, SPFL, Police Scotland and other stakeholders, where the football authorities agreed to collate data on unacceptable conduct in Scottish football for the first time from the start of the 2017-18 season - but on the condition that it remained confidential."

The SPFL said: “We absolutely condemn all forms of unacceptable conduct at SPFL matches. Our focus is on supporting the extensive work our clubs and police do to identify and punish the small minority of individuals who engage in this type of dangerous behaviour.”

Labour MSP James Kelly criticised the decision to keep the details of the report from the public.

He said: "The SPFL and the Scottish Government should be up front and open when it comes to the levels of unacceptable conduct being recorded in football stadiums.

"Without this transparency not only are we unable to view a clear picture of the scale of the problem, but we have little idea of what individual incidents are being classed as such."