The tour kick-started on 5 October at the Scottish Parliament with a national event aimed at briefing Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) on the proposed introduction of UEFA’s Strict Liability principles into Scottish football. The event was held at a time in which the Scottish Parliament is due to re-examine the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. It counted with the participation of Scottish Sports Minister Aileen Campbell and was recognised by 33 other MSPs, who supported Nil by Mouth’s motion in the parliament.
Commenting on the event, James Dornan MSP said: “The vast majority of supporters only want to go to the games to see the match and not have to listen to some of the nonsense they often have to put up with. I look forward to working with supporters of all clubs to ensure that any legislation that may eventually come about will be of the highest standard.”
Nil By Mouth founder Dave Scott said: “We’ve been campaigning for UEFA’s ‘strict liability’ principles to be introduced into Scottish football since 2013 when the clubs tried to brush the idea under the carpet at a Scottish Football Association Assembly General Meeting. Since then we have witnessed numerous instances of violent, sectarian and racist behaviour at matches and the Scottish Government’s own Advisory Group publish recommendations calling for the game to sign up to Strict Liability.
“That is why we fully support James Dornan’s efforts to introduce Strict Liability into law and why we, with support from Fare, are meeting MSPs to build cross party support for these proposals.”
The event at the parliament was also a platform to share the findings of the Scottish football supporters’ survey carried out by Nil by Mouth and Red Circle Communications that highlighted the fans experience with sectarianism in the stadiums.
In addition to this, on Tuesday 10 October the anti-sectarian NGO organised an evening of football held at the Scottish Premier League club Partick Thistle FC to celebrate the sport with the legendary Scottish football commentator Archie McPherson, BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Off the Ball’ host Annie McGuire and author Daniel Gray.
It followed Nil by Mouth’s and Daniel Gray’s visit to Gretna FC 2008 on Saturday 7 October, during their Lowland League fixture against Dalbeattie Star, to run an anti-discrimination workshop for supporters and players. Earlier on the day, they also went to Sterling to deliver a workshop on sectarianism in football in St Modan High School.
“We are very excited to have been chosen to be part of this European initiative to promote equality through sport. There can be no denying that Scottish football has clear problems with sectarianism and also needs to do more to ensure that other forms of abuse are tackled effectively.
“We also aim to show that Scottish football can be a beautiful thing, which brings people together each week right across the country. From Holyrood to Hamilton we will use this tour to start hundreds of conversations with people about how we can banish the bitterness and focus on the positives of our national game.” Scott explained.