Scottish parliament urged to tackle anti-Catholicism in soccer

Segregated crowd at an Old Firm match at Celtic Park in Glasgow (Wikipedia/Stanmar)

A leading anti-racism campaign has called on Scotland’s parliament to do more to tackle anti-Irish and anti-Catholic racism in soccer. Source: Crux.

The call comes after politicians and soccer officials condemned the singing of The Famine Song, which calls on Irish-descended Scots to go “back home”, prior to a match on August 29 between the Glasgow soccer teams Celtic and Rangers.

Although some rivalries can be friendly, the clashes of the “Old Firm” – the collective name for the two clubs – are anything but, mixing nationalism and religious sectarianism with sporting prowess.

Rangers is the Protestant club, while Celtic is the Catholic one – it was even founded by a priest. Although the teams ply their trade in the largest city of Scotland, it is Northern Ireland which dominates the culture of the clubs.

Anti-Catholic sentiment is common at Rangers games, and the club was disciplined by the governing body of European soccer in 2019 over anti-Catholic and anti-Irish chants at games. In May of this year, a Catholic church was vandalised by Rangers supporters following a win over Celtic.

“Some of the language in videos we have had sent to us – which include phrases like ‘go home’ – are appalling. It is no different to any other form of racism or xenophobia. Whoever utters those words is using racist language,” said Jordan Allison, the Scotland campaign manager for the organisation Show Racism the Red Card, which works to fight racism in soccer.

According to The Herald, almost 1000 reports of anti-Catholic abuse have been recorded by police between 2019-2021, with Glasgow accounting for nearly a quarter of the total.

Nearly half of all religiously motivated abuse in Scotland is targeted at Catholics.

In his statement, Mr Allison acknowledged, “Racism is bigger than football.” He called on the government to do more to address the problem.


Campaign calls for Scottish Parliament to tackle anti-Catholicism in soccer (By Charles Collins, Crux)

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