Me and Marega
This blog does not allow for an in-depth study of the failures or successes and associated issues of immigration and racism but it does allow for relatively concise summary and comment.
Many European countries have an inherent problem with racism. The reasons for this are many and varied but in a lot of cases can be traced back to Colonialism and the subsequent influx of adopted citizens from the Colonies arriving and taking jobs which the ‘natives’ considered to be theirs. We experienced this with the arrival of the Irish fleeing the famine and then in the late 50’s and on with the partition of India and her conflict with Pakistan.
More recently the ex-Communist Eastern European Bloc has seen many fleeing real poverty to try to improve their lives in the UK.
In the UK, in line with the worldwide resurgence of right wing political parties and groups and UK Government policies we have experienced a very unseemly and nasty agenda against immigrants. Particularly during the Brexit campaign. Fortunately, the worst of these views has not reached enough of the voting populace in Scotland.
It is here though but thankfully the problem is not as acute as it is south of the border. We cannot ourselves to be complacent as the right wing anti-Europe anti-immigrant viewpoint is prevalent in the North of England, real working class, impoverished areas which were traditionally Labour strongholds with socialist tendencies, not much different from our own working class environs. We saw it to an extent after our own Indie Referendum with clashes in George Square.
The treatment of Porto’s Moussa Marega does not come as a surprise. We have seen it before, more so in Italy but Latin countries have a long association with racism. Portugal was split on Monday with certain politicians refusing to accept it as a problem and the Vitoria fans’ group The White Angels saying they were the ones who had suffered racial abuse from Marega! The Portuguese Prim Minister condemned the racists.
And what about the referee? He booked Marega for his actions on the pitch!
UEFA guidelines are clear and explicit. It’s a Three Strike and You’re Out plan which effectively allows the referee to stop the game to allow an announcement for the abuse to stop, if that fails then he takes the players off the pitch for an agreed period to allow order to be restored and if the abuse continues when the play is restarted the game is abandoned.
The referee failed Marega.
Marega’s Porto manager and teammates probably thought they were doing the right thing by trying to get him to stay on, he had already scored the second goal to put Porto 2-1 up. ‘Don’t let the racists win’ was probably their message to the angry, distraught player. They called it wrong and I can sympathise with their viewpoint but what is apparent is there is only one way to deal with racism and that is by shutting it down, immediately!
The Rangers supporters have caused Ibrox to be partially closed twice this season in European ties. This is the minimum punishment UEFA will hand out to clubs found guilty of racism. Against St Joseph’s at Ibrox and Legia Warsaw in Poland their fans belted out the infamous Billy Boys tune which contains the UEFA-banned lyrics ‘We’re up to our knees in fenian blood, Surrender or you’ll die’.
The action to close 3000 seats was decisive and had the The Rangers board shitting themselves to the point they refused tickets for the away game versus Young Boys of Berne.
Of course, this wasn’t a moral decision, this was a financial decision as they couldn’t afford more seat closures. The point remains, though, this is how to hurt clubs. In their pockets!
So where are we now? We know racism is rife across Europe in all walks of life. We see it growing in England. We know we don’t really have a major problem in Scotland with it. But our Government, our Police Force, our Football Governing bodies, our own Club allow this offensive song to continue to be sung.
Despite it being banned by UEFA.
Despite The Rangers being punished twice by UEFA for singing it.
Despite it being sectarian and racist.
Despite all of this, not a word.
My memory takes me back to the Scottish Cup tie at Celtic Park, against the original Rangers when everything kicked off at the end. Rangers had three (I think) players red-carded, Lenny and McCoist had a wee handbags situation at the end and the Scottish Government took things in-house to try to restore order to Scottish Society by blaming football fans for everything!
Later in the same month Scottish Justice Minister Kenny Macaskill attended the League Cup Final between Celtic and Rangers with a view to understanding the mood of the rivalry and the emotion of the game, and to ensure the fixture passed without the issues of the previous fixture.
I was at the game. There was no trouble. No major trouble. It was typical Celtic v Rangers, very typical. For large portions of the game The Billy Boys could be heard loud and clear.
What was the Justice Minister’s view on the game? ‘A great day, a great family atmosphere! It passed without major incident!’
I expect we’ll read all about Marega in our papers for the next few days and Sky Sports will provide in-depth coverage with a probable nod to the abuse suffered by the England National team in Bulgaria. We might well be reminded of Balotelli in Italy or Prince Boateng.
If any of our local media are feeling particularly vindictive we might even hear about Tonev, or the 12 year boy who abused Morelos, or the 15 yr old boy who abused Logan but will we hear anything, anything, about the weekly racist, bigoted and sectarianism nonsense that afflicts this country, especially from our neighbours across the city?
I’m inclined to think not!
I considered a closing paragraph on possible actions or punishment our esteemed custodians could enforce on any guilty party but what’s required is logical and obvious and already exists in our statutes. What is needed is a will to enforce it but as our ex-Justice Minister said, and I paraphrase, ‘Nothing to see here, folks, move along!’
So there you have it folks! Racism is out there and it’s right in your face, but not here it seems….
The above is a guest article by McCaff. Should you fancy firing one in yourself we would be very grateful and its firstname.lastname@example.org