Photo Of The Day: Celtic Fans Oppose Offensive Behaviour At Football Act

Today’s photo of the day is somewhat topical despite harking back to almost a decade ago. The image we have chosen shows the Celtic support holding banners up in protest against the Offensive Behaviour At Football Act/Bill.

The Act was a shambolic piece of draconian legislation, which barely seemed believable in a modern country in the 21st century. Not only did it mean that football supporters were specifically targeted, rather than society as a whole (meaning you could sing a song at a march in the morning but then get arrested for singing the same song at a football match in the afternoon), but it also was entirely subjective. Indeed, police offers were given powers of arrest if they decided that they found something offensive. The craziness of this Act was such that supporters of some clubs were even arrested for using the F word, as happened in a Hamilton v Motherwell match.

Often, the enforcement of the Act was very malicious. Football supporters were recruited as informers, fans were kettled, battened, beaten, bullied and filmed. People’s lives were destroyed by dawn raids, being denied mortgages and insurance, and losing their jobs.

Bernard Higgins was heavily involved in the creation of the Offensive Behaviour Act and was its most vociferous supporter. He even stated that he “makes no apology” for anything as he was dealing with “the worst kind of hate crime.”

In March 2016, Celtic released a statement outlining their opposition to the legislation – you can view the statement by clicking HERE. It read:

WE note the comments made today by a number of sources calling for the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.

We have consistently opposed this legislation from the outset as it has been used to create a general presumption that different laws should apply to football supporters as distinct from society as a whole.

We reiterate our position that the Act should be repealed.

We encourage and promote positive behaviour within football at all times and welcome any attempt to do likewise.

However, this Act is unworkable, and once again we call for it to be repealed in the interests of all football supporters and football clubs.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were/are sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are available on Amazon.

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