Scottish football supporters need to sing from the same anti-sectarian song-sheets
One year on from the Scottish Government's anti-sectarianism football bill, the chairman of sport at Edinburgh University says that an official songbook is not a fanciful idea
Football supporters in Scotland should be issued with definitive lists on what is permitted under the Scottish Government’s anti-sectarian legislation, according to an academic.
Grant Jarvie, chairman of sport at Edinburgh University, has said that an official songbook is not a fanciful idea and would provide meaningful guidance to fans.
The suggestion comes as the first anniversary of the SNP’s Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act, which the Catholic Church in Scotland consulted on, comes round. It is an act that has been criticised by football supporters and opposition politicians, some of whom believe the legislation harasses supporters, puts them under surveillance and erodes their rights.
Kenny MacAskill, Justice Secretary, has, however, insisted that the Scottish Government’s attempts to tackle sectarian behaviour are working well.
“The charge and conviction rates for people arrested under this legislation show that it is working well,” Mr MacAskill said. “This legislation was introduced in response to Scotland’s police and prosecutors, who told us they needed greater powers to take a hard line on sectarianism associated with football.
“We have made clear that bigotry and religious hatred have no place in modern Scotland and we will stamp out on it wherever and whenever it occurs.
“The overwhelming majority of football fans are law-abiding and want to enjoy the friendly rivalry that is part of any game without this being marred by the actions of a mindless minority.”
Mr MacAskill added that ‘the problem of sectarianism is not just a football issue.’ “That is why we are spending £9 million in the next three years on a range of projects to tackle sectarianism across society,” he said.
Several figures, including Ally McCoist, the manager of Rangers FC, have raised the idea of a book of acceptable songs for fans to sing at matches, an opinion that is backed by Mr Jarvie.
“Fans need guidance on what songs can and cannot be sung and the suggestion from the Rangers manager that an official songbook needs to be produced to provide meaningful guidance to fans is not as fanciful as it may sound at first,” he said.
Under the new legislation, so far 89 per cent of the cases reported to the Crown Office have been prosecuted, and the conviction rate stands at 83 per cent.