‘Namecalling should not be confused with racism’

Two fans’ rights campaigners explain why they’re fighting for the right to be offensive in football grounds

Various Authors

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Topics Politics

I appreciate that there is a place for a bit of rudeness and banter at matches. Quite often, it’s more entertaining than what is happening on the pitch. But aren’t race and sectarian bigotry just a bit more serious than that? Given their history, they are not laughing matters, so why not say that racial or sectarian abuse is now unacceptable?

Tony Lawrence, UK

It may sound strange, but as far as I’m concerned there is no such thing as sectarianism in Scotland. I would go further and argue that there is actually no such thing as racism in English football. There is name calling, some of it not nice, but that should not be confused with racism. If people are really concerned about racism let them protest against immigration laws or join a protest against the detention of asylum seekers rather than anoint themselves as self-appointed guardians of what people can and cannot say at the football. While it may be in bad taste and downright disrespectful, there are no football chants I would ban, be they allegedly sectarian or racist. It doesn’t mean that I approve of them, but in the current climate I think it important to defend the right of fans to sing and shout what they want, no matter how obnoxious. Incidentally, in relation to campaigns in football, the politics of anti-racism and anti-sectarianism are much worse than so-called racism and sectarianism. KR

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