How do we solve a problem like harassment?

There’s been some strong feelings voiced about a group of fans boycotting Celtic Park for 2 matches.

One thing is certain, the club need to let us know where they stand in all of this.

Some fans are for the boycott, some are against it; but it seems that one thing most of us are agreed on is that this apparent organised harassment of a group of football fans is unnecessary and may infact serve as a catalyst to provoke a reaction that actually warrants the, no doubt, considerable volume of tax payer’s money required to sustain this level of attention. Is there an effort to justify police funding and validate the Offensive Behavior Bill which has, according to recent release of statistics, thus far failed to show results?

Cool heads are required at this stage.

That said, I believe it is now time for measured action.

The question now is:

Who do we target to make our points heard: The club? The authorities? Politicians?

What is the most effective way to get our point across? Is it a large-scale, peaceful demo? Is it a petition to remove the fan targeting legislation so hurriedly rushed through? Is it wider-spread boycotts to put pressure on the club?

What will give us maximum exposure in the media, and more importantly, help us to put a stop to the demonization of football fans?

Or do we just ignore it and hope it goes away?

Whatever action(s) decided, if any, it must be organised, measured and have the backing of the majority of fans.

The point of this blog post is to start a discussion as to what we, as football supporters should do next.

After all, whether it be beating Barcelona or standing up for the minority, we’re all in this together….

11 thoughts on “How do we solve a problem like harassment?

  1. tiltic says:

    Agree that rash action would be counter productive.Wrote to MSP after Hibs and think Udinese about overt filming of Green Brigade and reply was that this was perfectly acceptable.don’t know if visitng MSP surgeries would help. With @jcelticservant’s tweet this evening do all fams groups need to have dialogue with Celtic

  2. Vinny Cannon says:

    A good start is to publicly document each and every case for all to see, no matter how small. A blog/website that simply states the facts as they happen – where, when, who, what was said.

  3. pflan says:

    I imagine that the vast majority of Celtic fans do not know the harassment the GB face at every home game. So the fact that the wider support is starting to discuss it is positive, and I imagine, if one exists, Part 1 of the plan. Part 2 would be to consolidate opinion and generate a concerted, public response.

    The introduction of the Offensive Behaviour and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 has created an environment in which being a football fan, especially a football fan with particular political and/or cultural views, is criminal in the eyes of ‘reasonable people’. It may be that the concerted response could be in calling for this piece of legislation to be withdrawn at the end of this year, as it has spectacularly failed from its conception to its enforcement.

    I also agree that the club need to make clear their position. Was it not two seasons ago that the board were trying to break up the section. If that had happened I doubt that we would we have seen that full stadium display against Barca, or any of the many other colourful, humorous, and yes sometimes controversial displays over the past year or two. The club are quick to make financial gain off of the GB, I think that it is time they gave something back. We as fellow supporters are quick to sing and dance with them and take pictures of the displays, feeling a sense of pride that they are part of us. I think that it is time we gave something back.

  4. barcabuster says:

    The first step is to secure the backing, and support of CFC. To tackle this issue without it would prove fruitless. Ultimately, as the owners of Celtic Park, AND the employers of the police on duty there, it is their responsibility. N.B.There is no need to remind the board of the general behaviour of our fans, as they receive the plaudits directly, and proudly publish them. From a purely business point of view, any boycott will not only be detrimental to profits, but will affect enjoyment levels of non boycotting fans, AND the change in stadium ambiance may directly impact on the teams performance. As such, they are duty bound to protect their business interests. If a web address was provided by the club, which enabled footage to be uploaded to, the club could examine, monitor, and if neccessary compile it to substantiate any claims they may care to make to support any action they deem fit. This will have a twofold effect, in as much as any over zealous policing may be curtailed when it is known that such over zealousness is being monitored. And any reactions to provocation felt by our fans, will be in a temperate manner.

  5. John Markey says:

    If the custodians of our Club are indeed partly resonsible for this harrassment then I am totally ashamed of them. I don’t think the boycott is the answer, but it is the duty of the whole Celtic family to strongly oppose this unlawful harrassment. Why don’t we all join the Green Brigade, is there a membership scheme? If we are all members then what can they do against a world wide GB support? Let’s see where the present publicity takes us but we must all stand together on this one, no Celtic fan should be persecuted in this day and age for supporting their team.

  6. Steve says:

    Wait a minute John, you start off by questioning whether CFC are responsible then invite us all to join the GB. No way, they make a loud noise but I am completely at odds with them on certain issues. If someone has to reform it should be the GB.

  7. BlantyreKev says:

    I agree the harassment is a disgrace. But there are two points at issue here – the victimisation with an unknown catalyst or agenda (which is what most people have attached themselves to with their justifiable protest), and secondly the less talked about willingness or not of the Green Brigade to engage with the Club.

    At some point (and this will no doubt be unpopular) the Green Brigade need to justify why their self proclaimed right to stand and lateral movement beats current health and safety legislation which sees Celtic under immediate and real threat of ground closure and financial sanction.

    I have a friend and neighbour, a Celtic supporting policeman, who is an exceptionally good guy. Met him coming out of mass at the weekend. Brief take on the police position as he knows it (and he is not involved with the divisions that cover football) is that Celtic have indeed engaged the police in health and safety in ‘section 111’. The club’s own attempts to control and engage with the Green Brigade have met with a blank from the GB. The H&S breaches will not be tolerated any the authorities. Ergo enforcement.

    Now don’t get me wrong, this does not justify the type of treatment they currently receive, and whether there is a 2nd and 3rd agenda re singing or political motive I do not know, or whether the police have been given an inch and taken a mile, or receive further instruction from government I cannot say.

    But the GB do themselves no favours with the ‘ourselves alone’ attitude to the Club I’m afraid.

    What would you do if you were Peter Lawwell? The Green Brigade are fabulous for Celtic, a revelation. But they won’t engage willingly. You do not know their structure or their plans, or what he next banner will say. One has already seen you fined and warned by UEFA, others have had you in front of the SFA. One has of course recently been received with awe across Europe. So what next? Ride the rollercoaster? Wait and see if the HSE follow up with their threat? How much of the ground would they close? How much will the fine be? How long would they close the whole ground were there to be a tragic accident? Would the directors be up for personal liability?

    So rather then boycotts how about the Green Brigade engage with the Club, Willingly. And maybe, just maybe, meet the club half way on its Health and Safety requests. Then we can more clearly identify the agenda of others and tackle it.

    • Byrney says:

      BlantyreKev says: 19/11/2012 at 9:25 am
      “What would you do if you were Peter Lawwell”
      If this is genuinely the problem, Lawwell and the board (and the police/H&S) should come out and declare it, and apply these rules fairly and evenly.

      No lateral movement? Fine, but enforce it. I’m not entirely sure how the logistics of going to the toilet, going to get a pie at half-time, or indeed arriving at/leaving your seat would be achieved, but I’m sure the clever rule-makers have thought of that.

      No standing? Fine, but enforce it. Nobody is to stand in the stadium. Banished to the past are standing ovations for players, “stand up for the Champions” and the ridiculously dangerous practice of celebrating vociferously when a team scores a goal. Heaven help any group of fans that attempts a huddle.

      Of course, I’m being facetious, but if public safety is genuinely threatened by co-ordinated lateral movement, jumping, and standing, can anyone explain why Celtic Park hasn’t been closed down under the same rules for the uncoordinated, chaotic, much more dangerous, and generally spectacualr scenes that accompany any major goal? Why are some supporters told to sit while others (away fans primarily) stand throughout the entire match (as do our travelling fans) without a problem?

      It would be ludicrous to expect the crowd not to stand/move/celebrate during a football match, but this is what they claim to want to achieve. For some groups of fans. In some areas of some stadia. Without stating it publicly, just hoping it will happen through blanket intimidation.

      Doesn’t add up to me!

  8. John Markey says:

    Steve, As far as I am concerned the GB are now a part of the fabric of CFC, they are a breath of fresh air and when I take anyone along to the game, particularly the young ones, they spend more time watching and enjoying the GB than they do the team. They certainly enhance the match day experience and they deserve respect from both CFC and the support. The GB are still in their infancy and, yes they have made mistakes that caused CFC some embarrassment, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and I do hope they mature and progress in their appreciation of CFC’s expectations of them, in much the same way really as Neil Lennon has progressed in the last 2 seasons. As regards the H & S issues that BlantyreKev is highlighting, I would like to see these rules to see exactly what they say because we all stand up at times, Walk on, The Huddle, scoring goals…are we all breaking H & S rules then? Are we supposed to sit and politely applaud when we score? I am not being flippant, and I do know health and safety is important but sometimes rules can also go too far.

  9. pflan says:

    Personally, I think the increasing influence of the GB would have more to do with the board’s attitude than H&S regulations.

    Matt McGlone, at the recent AGM, asked the board to formally recognise the work done by the Celts for Change group in the transformation of the club. Celts for Change aimed to channel all the supporters’ energies in one direction to instigate change at the club. If the board formally recognise this group it will be done reluctantly, if at all.

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