It’s been a good while since I’ve written anything on here. I had this massive brainwave when I was on holiday and wrote hunners a blog posts but ended up only firing up a couple. The reason I’ve decided to write about this is that I think this whole dynamic with the Police and football in Scotland is more relevant now than it ever has been before. If you’ve got me on Twitter a wee bit of this might sound repetitive cos I fired up about 16 consecutive tweets about this last week but bare with me!
Right, first and foremost I’m going to mention the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act a good hunner times here just assuming everybody who’s reading this is familiar with it but I’m no going to go into too much about it cos there’s a whole other blog post in there somewhere. Also I’m no here to tar all police with the same brush and say they’re this that and the next thing that’s not what I’m trying to do here but I do think the direction the police are going in in regards to football should be questioned.
The thing with new legislation is, when it gets passed, its expensive. It’s expensive to implement it and enforce it to a good standard. Per regional police force in Scotland, only a number of the involved police are specially trained in sensitive cases like sexual violence and rape. I could go on for days about how specific the care is that victims of stuff like that need, from when they report the case to their recovery. But still, only a few officers per force are trained in handling these reports because it’s a financial stretch to train them all. Is it not a bit ridiculous, then, that whilst it’s a financial stretch to train more officers about dealing with these victims, there is plenty financial flexibility to ensure that police are well informed and equipped to criminalise young, working class folk in football grounds? I’m not saying that it’s as black and white as that – that all people criminalised under the OBFA are young, working-class folk but the certain vast majority are. Football has generally since its beginnings been a sport of the working class to a degree. Even at that, I’m sure the struggle (if any) that a middle class 40 year old would have with the police varies considerably than that faced by the young working-class 25 year old football fan.
The reason I said earlier that the police-football dynamic was more relevant now than potentially ever before, was after the arrests made last week after the ‘Old Firm’ when inflatable dolls were suspended from the upper tier. Now, there’s an argument to be made that the display was bad judgement but no matter what team it is, you can’t please everyone. Everyone’s taste and sense of humour is different and there’s always going to be people that are displeased and offended. So, even if displays are arguably bad judgement and offend folk – is it really worth ruining the lives of young people by giving them a conviction for messing about with blown-up sex dolls or pyro or outspoken banners in a football ground under an absurdly flawed Act?
I’m aware that I’m totally rambling on here but its unbelievable the resource and money being spent to implement this Act which ruins the lives of people exercising their liberty of opinion in a football ground. Like the volume of police at midweek home fixtures at Celtic park against teams like Alloa! Surely there is much worse happening outwith the stadium that merits police attention more than watching supporters celebrate Celtic firing through to the next stage of the cup? What’s worse is the patter from folk about how “politics and football don’t mix”, “don’t bring politics into football”. What?????? You can’t create a legislation – which is political by default – about football and then condemn expression of political opinion in football. Politics and football should absolutely mix. We are so fortunate to live in a country were we can attend football matches and follow certain leagues without worrying about stuff like war and conflict and fatal injustice. We should be using the voice we have to stand up for the people that don’t have the same opportunities that we do – look at the Match the Fine for Palestine campaign! We should be allowed to express opposition to certain ideas/people/politics in the same way we should be able to show our support for the same things – its diluted oppression otherwise. The reason the government don’t want politics and football to mix is because they know the massive audience that follows football and the potential outreach it has. They know this audience will see the opinions expressed in football grounds and God forbid those wretched working class fans express their progressive, lefty opinions that don’t correlate with the exclusive, rigid rhetoric of the Establishment on such a big platform.