2007 - 2021

BOA Constrictor

Two football stories jump out this week  – both share the common feature about a real lack of democracy in the game. One is about a club run by a fat-cat oligarch, the other is about the imperial disdain the English football authorities have over their home nation colleagues, fans and players. Both are questions of “exceptionalism”. Why should footballers be above the law, and why should England dominate and bully British Olympic football?

Hearts (officially Scotland’s dirtiest team) have not had a great season. After the shame of the attack on Lennon the club reached a new low this week with its response to and handling of defender Craig Thomson’s behaviour. Last week, Thomson pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent behaviour for lewd and libidinous behaviour towards two girls, aged 12 and 14.

Hearts fans are rightly upset that he sought out and was allowed to work with young girls despite repeated complaints about his behaviour. Instead we’re faced with the pathetic reponse that: ‘The player has apologised for his crimes and Hearts said his “grave error of judgement” was due to “naivety and possible wrong outside influence”. Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

It gives credence to the widespread belief that this is one football club that is deeply in denial about its place in society and acceptable standards. It’s not just Hearts fault, its about vastly overpaid people behaving appallingly then venerated in tabloid sleb culture.

Thomson’s apology and the clubs follow-up statement are truly bizarre and should be deeply worrying to all true Hearts fans.

This has a history. In 1996 Rangers sought to protect their prize-player and circled the wagons when campaign group against domestic violence, Zero Tolerance, joined the church organisation, the Network of Eucumenical Women in Scotland, in condemning the club’s silence on their player’s behaviour last week at Gleneagles Hotel. Whether it’s the spitting Gazza, shagging Rooney or the long long history of violence that trails England football seems to be exempt from law or censure, mostly because it makes alot of money.

The other story that has trundled along all week is ‘Team GB’, a concept first trailed by Gordon Brown and Tory-Seb Coe. The British Olympic Association have made a right Andy Hunt of it. In a confused wave of enthusiasm for promoting womens footbal, flogging tickets and old-skool anglo-centric myopia, this weeks ‘historic agreement’ turned out to be another slap in the face for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Amongst a welter of tub-thumping jingoism, Louise Taylor at the Guardian leads the charge. Taylor seems to live in a world where ‘FIFA assurances’ are like gold-plated promises from on-high. Didn’t the Guardian the week before lead the attack on FIFAs corruption? I’m confused. Is FIFA corrupt and useless or trustworthy and believable? Utterly corrupt or unimpeachable? Depends what side of the bed English football journos get up on.

In barely disguised disdain she writes: “As the FA is the IOC/Fifa designated national governing body for Olympic football, mandated to represent not just the English but their Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish counterparts, the agreement is legally binding and there is nothing those outraged Celtic neighbours can do about it.” So there.

NI, Wales and Scotland have been crystal clear on reasons for not wanting to take part. Yet their views have been consistently disregarded. Taylor again:

“In reality many non-English British footballers of both sexes may jump at a rare chance to participate in a major tournament.”

Yes I’m sure Darren Fletcher (who’s trophy cabinet includes four Premier Leagues, one FA Cup, two League Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup) is desperate to walk out in an England top in front of 3000 at Hampden for Team GB.

It’s all a bit odd and a bit desperate.

As Gerry Hassan writes: “This despite of all that Sepp Blatter and his FIFA cronies have done to humiliate England and the game of football. To the world of FIFA the four nations of the United Kingdom has always been an anomaly, one to live with for the time being, but if the opportunity were to offer itself, rectify and rationalise. The English have curiously failed to recognise that the existence of a ‘Team GB’ isn’t just a threat to the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish and their place on the global stage of world football (including the occasional presence at World Cup and European Championship finals). But the English too.”

What to do? Clubs need to be made accountable, and it’s probably fans that need to protest to their own people. The Olympics fiasco is probably less important, as the Team GB is likely to be England X plus Gareth Bale or some Rangers half-wit.

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  1. G Barrie says:

    A good article but you spoiled it needlessly at the end by ,,, “some Rangers half-wit”, Do you mean half-wit because he/they are Unionists? If yes then we have many such half-wits in Scotland.
    Scots players with English clubs will be in a difficult position if selected for the Olympics. Yes they are on outrageously large earnings but do they risk giving these earnings up by refusing to join the Olympics squad?They would be under pressure from the English press,the BBC, fans, and possibly their employers. And there is the possibility that they will selected to the squad just to demonstrate English power. And as to actually being selected to play? Zero chance.
    Silver lining – the Tartan Army “outraged” may begin to vote SNP and so for independence, and thus able to apply for re-instatement to FIFA as a fully grown up member.
    Many years back Scotland’s hockey team won the British Championship, when it came to selection of the “British” team not one Scot was selected.
    In summary, not being a football supporter I think the behaviour of the British Olympics Committee and Mr Coe is probably beneficial to more important matters.

    1. Tocasaid says:

      Agree. Rangers undoubtedly do have a number of problem supporters that runs into the thousands, at least. However, like many reading this, I know some decent Rangers fans. An uncle of friend is both a Rangers fan and a Roman Catholic (“I don’t care about religious issues, they’re the best football team”) and another friend is not only an atheist and anarchist but has fought both BNP and British Movement thugs on the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh. I am also aware of a large number of Asian Scots who support Rangers.

      Again, lets keep the small minded fitba tribalism out of this.

    2. bellacaledonia says:

      You may be right. I take it back.

      What I meant was it’s not difficult to imagine a young or excitable Rangers player – who is lured in by the idea of Team GB and thinks he’s doing his patriotic bit, but in fact ends up jeopardising his country’s international status with a queue of other nations wanting a say in footballs governing institutions.

      1. Ken Mac says:

        No, you were spot on. A day after your post you can read the idiot Davie Weir, who certainly can’t be described as young or excitable, backing team GB and announcing his availability.

  2. Tocasaid says:

    Hmmm… as a long-time Jambo, I’m angered by Hearts’ handling of this. Most Hearts fans are. Similarly, the Lennon incident. However, the reference to Hearts as ‘officially Scotland’s dirtiest team’ is neither relevant nor welcome. It may have a place on the small-minded forums of Hibs Net/ Bounce but not in a serious political discussion.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      The link suggests that’s a factual point Tocasaid.

      1. Tocasaid says:

        Suggestion aint fact. The fine from the SPL was patently unfair. The relevance of the link in the above article is not so obvious though. It smacks of fitba tribalism and if we go down that road then we will end up like the aforementioned forums which are rarely places were logic or fairness see the light of day. Certainly, another Edinburgh club – and its not Spartans or Leith Ath – has been in the news this week for ‘off the field’ matters that do little to give a positive image of Scotland’s professional football playing athletes.

        As a further point to the anti-fascist action mentioned above, I seem to recall a black member of the group in question being racially abused by fans of another two clubs – not Dumbarton or Dundee Utd – notable for their ‘Irish roots’ and ‘superiority’ in matters of race relations.

        Stanes and glass houses…

  3. ClanMaclean says:

    As a Rangers supporter, a member of the SNP and obviously Independence I feel most aggreived by your last statement. This is deeply offensive to Rangers fans like myself of a nationalist persuasion (and trust me on this, there a plenty and growing in numbers). It’s petty small minded comments like this that will not help us in converting the masses (pardon the obvious religious reference) to voting yes in an independence reference.
    Please keep the level of debate above the gutter or you may find that the number of peolpe that read your blog on a regular basis may decline, myself included.
    However i’m quite flattered that you would consider that a Rangers player would/could make it into team GB……….I wouldn’t!

  4. Scottish republic says:

    I couldn’t care less about football myself but I’m angered at FIFA and the other lot.

    However, I’m disgusted to the pit of my stomach that this pedophile is allowed to continue playing football.

  5. David MacGille-Mhuire says:

    Personally, I loathe this so-called beautiful game, especially at professional level, wherever it is practiced for its animus of thuggery on and off the field of play and would be inclined to ban it except at tightly controlled, amateur level under the full force of the law (Scots Law, in this case and compliant or even ahead of and at the cutting edge of best practice international law, and based on precedent going back to James VI, I think, but abandoned in the face of potential physical force tribalism even then).

    The essential foulness of this “game” is a global phenomenon and its ongoing malign effect on the social fabric of the nations, peoples, and cultures of the world are copiously attested to on the various legal, journalistic and historical records.

    That this tribal warfare venting is granted “exceptionalist” status and space for its often brutish and criminal behaviour beggars belief. And that it is accredited with Corinthian spirit and admitted to the Olympic Games is beyond Monty Pythonesque in that it is not even that stretch of English, public schoolboy/Oxbridgian comedics.

    That there is to be a “Team ‘GB'” pushes the limits of supra-nationalism backwards to the lebensraum of the Nazis’ attempt to, literally, white-wash their faux Aryan, “superman” Olympics until the myth was demolished by a great African-American athlete.

    Padlock all their doors. Impose a root and branch and democratically-led public enquiry into the whole soccer/fitba’ edifice and re-evaluate our connections to that overblown commercial charade which the Olympics has nakedly become.

    Let us, please, move on not only politically into independence and the global family of nations, but let us do so ethically and as a shining example (and if the football authorities respond positively and root and branch pro-actively, then, and only then, may their gates and bank accounts be unpadlocked).

  6. Observer says:

    ”However, I’m disgusted to the pit of my stomach that this pedophile is allowed to continue playing football”

    Steady on, you don’t know if the boy is a paedophile. He was found guilty of behaviour *over the internet*; as he hasn’t been imprisoned & the club have kept him on he could just have been daft.

    Despite the fact that footballers are paid far too much money I don’t think they should be sacked for making a mistake & that’s what this possibly is.

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