OBFA, the Scottish Cup Final and Rangers as victims

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A few thoughts on the Scottish Cup Final.

We have written before about being against OBFA. It’s unfair, unworkable, unclear, unenforceable and has wider implications for civil liberties. Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final was a good example of its ineffectiveness: a sizeable proportion of the Rangers support were singing sectarians songs without any action being taken. Then a mini riot started. Don’t get me wrong, the singing didn’t cause the riot and I don’t blame the police for not wading into the stands and attempting to arrest a few thousand Rangers fans. But it just shows how useless the law is. It’s a law you can break with impunity as long as you break it in large enough numbers. Which is basically most top level football games. So, it’s a law which actually incentivises mass participation. It’s only the lone straggler that breaks away from the herd that gets caught.

Despite the law being in place it was broken en masse on Sunday. If, however, the SFA were to penalise clubs when their fans sing sectarian songs or get involved in violence then bad behaviour would stop abruptly. If clubs could be docked ten league points or kicked out of cup competitions then we could just move on from OBFA and class it as a well meaning but flawed experiment.

OBFA aside, with regards to the post match carnage, there is no excuse for the behaviour of the idiots from both sides who ran on the pitch, and even less of an excuse for the small number of knuckledraggers who actually fought each other, attacked Rangers staff and damaged property. Anyone who is identified as being involved in the violence should be banned from stadiums. We need to give the police and football authorities time to punish those responsible, and the measured but serious Hibernian FC statement takes that into account:

Hibernian FC this evening confirmed that it will co-operate fully into any inquiry into the pitch invasion which followed the club’s historic Scottish Cup win at Hampden Park.

The Club reiterates its regret at the events which unfolded immediately following the final whistle. Hibernian always seeks to maintain high standards, and we will work with the authorities to identify any supporter who may have taken part in any form of unacceptable behaviour which has tarnished the club’s reputation.

Hibernian will work with Police Scotland, Hampden Park Stadium Management, the Scottish FA, Rangers FC and any other relevant parties to bring those responsible to book.

This is what official club statements should be like, not rushing to judgement based on incomplete and biased information but promising to work with the other parties to identify Hibs fans involved.

Contrast that with the statement issued by Rangers which is as one sided, incendiary and isolationist as the average fan forum post.

I don’t really blame football fans for being partisan as a bit of controlled tribalism is part of what makes football interesting. I myself judge identical refereeing decisions favourably or non favourably depending on whether they benefit my team or not. I know that most Rangers supporters are normal, level headed people. I don’t think they are any worse or any better than other supporters. That said, while many football fans have an us-against-the-world philosophy, the delusional victim culture within Rangers officialdom is astounding.

For a bit of balance consider this:

  • Maybe the SFA and others haven’t yet condemned Hibs because they want to do a proper investigation before apportioning blame?
  • Maybe it’s a good idea for a club with a large following not to single out individual people who express opinions that the club don’t agree with? It could incite worse violence than mild violence that occurred on Saturday.
  • Maybe it’s not a good idea to suggest any true supporter would run on the pitch to violently defend their team in similar circumstances. Are the majority of Rangers fans who acted properly not real supporters?
  • Maybe it’s not a good idea to refer to the First Minister’s constituency as a Parish, knowingly adding a religious element to an unsubstantiated smear? Why would the First Minister condemn Hibs fans and not Rangers fans before an actual enquiry has been completed?

And Rangers, the BBC are not out to get you. Occasionally a journalist, if they are doing their jobs properly, will say things that you don’t agree with. Just grow up and live with that. Given that most Scottish media is based in Glasgow and given the extent of Old Firm support, it goes without saying that the media will comprise of a fair amount of people who are sympathetic to Rangers. You don’t need to single people out, ban journalists or try to get people sacked like you have in the recent past.

Saying that, in a way, the vast majority of Rangers fans have been victims. But they have not been the victims of some huge conspiracy that many of their press releases and actions hint at. The majority of Rangers fans have been the victims of the people running Rangers for the last few decades. As the Panama Papers show, people don’t like tax avoidance which is the one issue that all of their recent troubles stem from, and since then they have stumbled from calamity to calamity blaming everyone but the people who were truly responsible – a succession of parasites trusted to run the club.

Probably one of the reasons the Club actively accentuates this feeling of victimhood is to deflect from the failings that still exist in the Ibrox corridors of power: look away Rangers fans, your problems are caused by everyone else.

Whatever happened on Saturday (and it probably will turn out the Hibs fans behaviour was significantly worse) it would be good to see Rangers stop playing the victim card. Admit, that like most clubs, you have problems with fan behaviour. After all, you were involved in the worst UK football riot in recent memory. Apologise to your own fans for the poor running of the club. Apologise to all of us for avoiding tax in order to increase the chances of winning trophies. Realise you are not a put upon minority and are in fact one of the biggest clubs in world football. Accept that, as a Scottish institution, journalists will criticise you in the good times and even more so given your tumultuous recent history. Work together with Hibs, the Government, the SFA and the Police in order to deal with and prevent future ugly incidents like Saturday. Try to strike a more conciliatory and less paranoid tone.

If you are not willing to come in from the cold, and you want to continue to pretend you are some put upon minority then at least give the authorities a bit of time before you start to criticise them for failing to take appropriate action with regards to Saturday’s shameful events. Were you really expecting them to come out on Sunday and say ‘Hibs Bad, Rangers Good’?

Oh, and consider changing the person who writes your public statements.

Since publication Hibs have released another more detailed statement

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