Celtic

The Arbiters Of Free Speech

BbO2_l7CYAAiArR.jpg largePeople steal or misattribute good lines to people they like or want to lionise, it happens.

“I disagree with what you say sir, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” has been attributed to many people, but is most commonly thought to have been said by Voltaire.

It was probably however by his biographer, who was describing what Voltaire’s point was, though some have tried to steal it to say it was something by one of the people who made the Constitution of the USA.

Whoever said it, it is a good and important concept. We can argue all day about the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre and so on, but whichever side of that argument you fall on, the problem comes in when you start to think about who should be the arbiters of what is and isn’t fair play.

And again, wherever you stand on the argument, the arbiters sure as fuck shouldn’t be UEFA.

Obviously as a Celtic supporter I’ve got a bone to pick with UEFA with all this and that is why it was nice to see Greenpeace pissing them off (again) by annoying one of their big sponsors.

This is just a little taster of a larger article I’d like to write on this topic and the teaser question is simply this…

You may or may not agree that there should be limits to free speech. People tend to move along a spectrum on that one.

Whatever your opinion, what the fuck have UEFA (or FIFA or the IOC for that matter) got to do with deciding for anyone what they can and can’t say?

Sport & Politics DO Mix

Independence CelticContrary to the cliché, sport and politics DO actually mix. Whether you think that is a good thing or not is where the debate comes in.

Most people seem to like politics at football (or sport in general) as long as it is politics they agree with.

In order to see where you stand on the political issues you could compare your reactions to what Tommy Smith and John Carlos did at the Mexico Olympics or Emily Davidson becoming a martyr for the suffragette movement to some of the right-wing banners you see, for example, amongst the Serbian fans.

I was happy last night because there were two little political bits that I noticed that were both up my political street. At the Celtic V Barcelona match I was happy to see this banner in amongst the support…

But I’d have to say that yesterday the politics in football trophy goes to Greenpeace for their amazing protest which involved abseiling off the stadium roof and unfurling a huge banner at the Basel V Schalke match.

Here are a couple of videos of the event. I also notice that UEFA are blocking some of them…

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Milan & Marching On!

I had a good time last night appearing on the ETims podcast. For those readers that are Celtic supporters it should be up your street.

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We talked about the football obviously, towards the end though, we moved on to issues surrounding the Independence referendum and how it stands with a year to go.

You can get the podcast here.

The Scottish Independence Podcast 28 – Paul Larkin

The-Last-Pearl-DiverFor the 28th episode of The Scottish Independence Podcast I spoke with Paul Larkin.

Paul is a writer who has made the Amazon bestseller list and is very well-known amongst those of us who support Celtic and is one of the mainstays of Hail Hail media, the Celtic fans very own channel.

For many people however, he’ll be something new on the menu.

We had a very open conversation indeed. It took in the problems that many of the Celtic support have with the SNP, the kinds of conversation Paul is having with the supporters when he speaks to them, positive/negative campaigning and the detachment between people and politicians up and down the UK.

We also got on to his time in New York and what people think about Scotland there and why there has historically been a negative attitude from some Celtic supporters toward the Scottish national team.

Finally, we had a word about Paul’s upcoming book, in which he promises there will be some serious revelations about who pulls what strings in Scotland.

Hope you enjoy…

As usual, this is the direct download link (right click and save as)

You can listen to the show online at its web page

Or you can subscribe with itunes

Enjoy

Michael Greenwell

Time For A Review

k1Recently the Scottish Government have suggested they aren’t particularly interested in speeding up a review of the Offensive Behaviour Bill, but I think some of the following information might make people want to see a review before 2015, when the review is due to come up.

These statistics were obtained from the Scottish Government by Siobhan McMahon MSP and were stated in an interview by  Jeanette Findlay from the Celtic Trust and Fans Against Criminilisation. You can find the original recording here, starting from about 66 minutes.

The first question put was…

“What projects have been funded to tackle sectarianism in each of the last two years?”

This was asked to get an idea of what educational projects were underway. The answer gave some rather surprising facts about where the money was going.

In short, according to Findlay and McMahon (via ScotGov)…

  • A large amount of the funding for anti-sectarianism educational projects, in fact more than half of it, went to the FOCUS (Football Coordination Unit for Scotland) group of the police.
  • In 2011-12 this group received 75% of the funding
  • In 2012-13 they received 32% of the funding
  • They received 1.82 million in total
  • This unit consists of no more than 10 people

Furthermore, this group are there to police an act which at no point mentions sectarianism, but rather mentions “Offensive Behaviour”.

Findlay went on to say…

“One of the things that FAC (Fans Against Criminilisation) has always said is “in whose interest is this?”. The only people in whose interest this act now remains is the police service of Scotland because this is funding which is separate from their core budget. They have a core budget which is getting squeezed so  they need to find other nice tempting budgets that they can get into, and they seem to be swallowing up the bulk of this budget.

A second question was put…

“How many people have been convicted under the Offensive Behaviour Act?”

  • 64 people were prosecuted and of those, 54 were convicted  under the part of the act which is about offensive behaviour at football between 1st March 2012 and 31st December 2012
  • Before taking into account the costs of the lawyers, the court system etc, that works out as £33,703 per conviction.
  • There were 4 people prosecuted under the part of the act which is about threatening communications and one person was convicted under that.
  • Of Celtic supporters, who have been involved in the major protests against the bill and rightly or wrongly feel somewhat more persecuted by it, no one who has pleaded “not guilty” (and therefore gone to trial) has actually been convicted.

BHKhiunCMAIqRK9.jpg largeFindlay also said that another question will be asked about whether these people could have been convicted under existing section 74 offences (such as Breach of the peace, religious aggravation).

Moreover…

  • If you look at 2011-12 the last full year of Section 74 stats, only 8% of all religious aggravated offences took place at football grounds.
  • Therefore, only 8% of offences but then 75% and then 32% of the budgets for anti-sectarian projects are directed towards the policing of football. That makes 50% of the budget for 8% of the offences.
  • More than 10,000 letters have been sent to MSPs raising concerns about the bill. That was in turn discussed in the Justice Committee meeting of the Parliament of the 23rd April.

It’s time to bring forward the review of this.

Finally, she suggested people should be putting in Freedom of Information Requests.

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UPDATE

My podcasting colleague has informed me that, contrary to the impression I got from a recent interview on the subject of bringing forward the review, the law cannot be reviewed formally at any given time, although an informal review can obviously be done at any time.

Further, the requirement to report is built into the act itself and the law would need to be amended to speed up any review.

That said, given the car crash nature of the law, they should just get on with it.

Serious Disunity Breaks Out In Yes Camp

I managed to steal this story to break it here from one of our entirely unbiased major media outlets…

Serious Divisions To Break Out In Yes Camp

News is coming out that suggests the most serious disruption in the Yes camp to date will break out tomorrow.

Prominent Independence supporters such as Kevin Williamson, Irvine Welsh, Andrew Smith and Sean McPartlin are said to be preparing to launch a campaign in a pitched battle against another faction in the Yes camp which includes musician Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai, comedian Frankie Boyle and podcast hosts Krys Kujawa and Michael Greenwell.

The ‘No’ camp were quick to  seize the _end-of-the-world_2433119bopportunity this division in the Yes camp gave them with Johann Lamont saying it was vital to have the debate, Ian Davidson saying “I’ll burst thae wee ratbags”. George Foulkes immediately claimed it was proof positive that the pixies in his garden really had been nibbling his flowers.

What is certain is that this disaster for the Yes camp, cunningly disguised as a Scottish Cup Final, means that it is entirely impossible for Scottish Independence to happen/be a success/not cause the apocalypse (delete as applicable).

Michael Moore claimed that this is the evidence that Scots cannot be left alone for too long without organising themselves along age old tribal hatreds. The fact that the supposed “cup final” is expected to be conducted in a jovial atmosphere was “of no consequence”, said Moore.

John Curtice was, as ever, available for comment.

The Scottish Independence Podcast Episode 15 – Krys Kujawa

k1The most popular sport in our country is still football by far and whether we like it or not, there are strong political undercurrents to what goes on in the stadiums.

Although players certainly get too much publicity, fans are often shunted to the side and treated as 2nd class citizens.

Therefore, with such a momentous decision coming up for Scotland in 2014, those in favour of a Yes vote would be making a grave error if they ignored the discussions on the subject that are taking place in the stadiums and between the supporters that make up a large part of the population of Scotland.

In that light, for the Scottish Independence Podcast I have decided to do an occasional series with supporters from as many different teams as possible to find out what discussions are taking place around the stadiums and in the clubs and how this might affect the referendum. I want to look at who is for and against and why that might be. They won’t be consecutive, just mixed in with the other ones.

If football isn’t your thing don’t worry as we won’t be talking about the matches themselves.

For the first of these I spoke to Krys Kujawa who is the host of the Celtic podcast The Paradise Report.

We talked about how approaching football supporters as a block group all with the same opinions is an error. We talked about how the situation looks among the Celtic support and some of the historical and current reasons for that situation and also what might be done to persuade more of them to vote yes. It was also necessary to talk about what many feel is the increasing criminilisation of football supporters.

Hope you enjoy it.

This is the direct download link (right click and save as)

You can listen online here on the show’s homepage.

They Aren’t My Amigos

No to Newco. Boot them out of the SFA and the SPL.

Can I go a bit off topic now?

When I hear Celtic fans or radio broadcasters talking about ‘the 3 amigos’ (for you youngsters this means Paolo Di Canio, Pierre Van Hooijdonk and Jorge Cadete) I cringe a little every time.

It amazes me how people look back on them so fondly.

It’s not that I don’t remember the goals or the great play or even the great songs. However, I am also unable to disassociate that from who these people are.

I’ll start briefly with the two money-grabbers before I get to the fascist.

Jorge Cadete was a talented striker no doubt about it. So talented in fact that the SFA in the Jim Farry days delayed his registration to stop him playing for us in an important game.

In his only full season he scored 33 goals in 44 games and was one of the best penalty box strikers we have had in modern times.

Nevertheless, when the whiff of the euro reached him from Spain (Celta Vigo), Cadete did not show up for pre-season training the next season and began to mess the club around:  he was subsequently transferred.

It didn’t finish there either. A few years later and well past his prime, obviously needing more euros and after a spell on Big Brother, he returned to Scotland and tried to reingratiate himself to the Celtic support by going on TV and speaking about why he should never have left Celtic and wanted to come back. Then manager Martin O’Neill didn’t bite so Cadete agreed to sign for Raith Rovers before proceeding to do a Judas (he was photographed in the shirt and everything) and go to Partick Thistle. I am not sure this is the stuff of Celtic heroes.

Pierre van Hooijdonk was another excellent striker. 57 goals in 68 matches is an exceptional record by any standard.

However, his attitude didn’t endear to many at Celtic. It has been alleged that he refused to commit to doing any of the club’s charity work. When the time came for contract negotiations and he said on the radio that £7,000 may be good for a homeless person, but £7,000 a week is not good enough for a top class forward” I think that should have excluded him from Celtic great status. After the arguments over the contract he was transferred down south.

He went on to fanny about Nottingam Forest for a while before being scammed for a couple of million euros by a non-existent Chinese textile company.

And now to the meat and bones of it.

Paolo di Canio is a self-confessed fascist  and was also as much of a money-grabber as the other two, though I think the second fact is nothing compared to the first one.

Let’s hear it from the man himself. After making a fascist salute (which he did more than once) to the Lazio supporters he had this to say…

“I am a fascist, not a racist.”

“I give the straight arm salute because it is a salute from a ‘camerata’ to ‘camerati’,” (this is the Italian for members of Mussolini’s fascist movement).

“The salute is aimed at my people. With the straight arm I don’t want to incite violence and certainly not racial hatred,”

Oh well, that’s alright then. He has “Dux” which is Latin for “Duce” as a tattoo and he also described Mussolini as…

basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood”.

He now seems to go on about Samurai culture. The Samurai, if you remember, were another group like the fascists who thought very little about lopping off the head (literally or figuratively – however you like) of one of the little people who they didn’t like the look of.

I don’t know what supporting Celtic means to you, but to me it does not mean cheering on fascists, or remembering their good goals and trying to shove everything else about them down the memory hole.

Even this week he is involved in controversy with the “not a racist” part of his statement coming into some doubt.

The first of the two Amigos are money-grabbers like so many players in the modern game. They are not worse than many others who have played for us since then but I don’t think they should be held in as high-esteem as they are. For me Di Canio is a very dark moment in our history and I am certainly far from proud that he played for us.

They aren’t my amigos.