Banner celebrating far-right leader highlights rising levels of discrimination in Scottish football14 February 2019


At least eight high profile incidents of racist and sectarian chanting have been reported in Scotland since the start of this season.

This week two fans were arrested after making racially offensive remarks at last week’s game between Aberdeen and Rangers.

During the Scottish Premiership fixture between Rangers and St. Mirren on Saturday February 2nd, Rangers fans were filmed displaying a large banner celebrating a far-right leader, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson. Lennon was the founder of the ‘English Defense League’, a far-right movement in the UK trying to recruit specifically among football fans.

This incident follows several others that have been reported in Scottish football over the course of this season.

In November 2018 a video on Instagram emerged showing approximately 30 Hearts fans chanting Robinson’s name and wearing masks with his face.

Celtic chairman Ian Bankier addressed the rise in sectarian chanting among Celtic fans, including incidents calling Hearts and Rangers’ managers ‘orange bastards’. During the last Old Firm derby, both Celtic and Rangers fans were heard launching mass sectarian chants at each other.

Further incidents are also on record where individual fans of several clubs have been targeting black players with racist abuse.

The worrying attempts by the far-right to infiltrate and recruit football fans in Scotland require a stronger response from the Scottish FA. Scotland is not implementing the principle of strict liability that allows clubs to be held responsible for the behaviour of their fans, including discriminatory displays.

The principle, applied by UEFA, FIFA and many sporting bodies worldwide, helps to end impunity in case of mass discriminatory displays where identifying individual perpetrators is not possible or not addressed adequately by the clubs.

The Scottish league clubs are resisting the introduction of the strict liability principle despite strong calls to do so amid rising levels of discriminatory abuse. It might be about time to introduce this internationally recognised principle in Scottish football to tackle the rising levels of sectarianism and racism while the far-right continues to exploit football to spread hate.

Discriminatory incidents in Scottish football this season
Below are some of the highlighted incidents of discrimination recorded in Scotland since the start of the season:

29 December 2018 – Scottish Premiership: FC Rangers v FC Celtic

Sectarian chanting was chanted by both Rangers and Celtic fans.

29 December 2018 – Scottish Premiership: Hearts v Hibernian

A Hibernian fan has been arrested for shouting racist abuse at Hearts defender Clevid Dikamona.

02 December 2018 – Scottish Cup: Celtic FC v Aberdeen FC

An Aberdeen fan was caught on camera directing racist abuse at Celtic player, Scott Sinclair, during the second half of the Scottish Cup fixture against Aberdeen.

08 December 2018 – Scottish Premiership: Hearts v Motherwell

Two Hearts fans were arrested after they directed racist abuse at Motherwell player Christian Mbulu.

24 November 2018 – Scottish Cup: Stenhousemuir v Falkirk

A group of Falkirk fans directed racist abuse towards their own player, Dennon Lewis, during the Scottish Cup match.

14 September 2018 – Scottish Premier League: St Mirren v Celtic

A St Mirren fan directed monkey chants towards Celtic players Odsonne Édouard and Olivier Ntcham during the match.