The ‘Brought it on Themselves’ Media Narrative – ‘Celtic fans, victims but it was their own fault’

THE Celtic Star stayed away from the tabloid stories about the trouble in Rome that the red tops eagerly anticipated from the day after Celtic’s 2-1 victory at Celtic Park against Lazio.

Now that the support is home safely, including we believe the three supporters who were stabbed but thankfully not as seriously hurt as could have been the case, we thought we’d look back on these events at this stage. Niall J looks at what happened in Rome and considers the Media’s bizarre attempts at directing the blame onto the Celtic support for provoking the Right Wing Beasts in Rome.

It has echos of Neil Lennon ‘bringing it on himself’ from his first time in charge of Celtic. Over to Niall…

The ‘Brought it on Themselves’ Media Narrative – ‘Celtic fans, victims but it was their own fault’

“Blaming the victim is an act of refuge and self-deception. It allows the blamer to sit in judgment, imagining some mystical justice that means bad things happen only to bad people, thus ensuring their own safety.”

Three Celtic fans went to Rome to watch their football team and suffered stabbings at the hands of the right wing fascist element within the Lazio Ultras.

More were ambushed when the bus apparently carrying them securely from the Stadio Olimpico back into the City Broke down. No alternative was arranged, the driver seems to have decided he didn’t fancy hanging around and he was off, maybe he had that ingrained self-awareness local knowledge brings. These fans they were left to their own devices and forced to walk through the Lazio district of Rome still reeling from their team’s earlier defeat. Thankfully it would appear other than a frightening experience there were no further stabbings at least.

These supporters have followed an age old tradition of travelling to a foreign destination, meeting up with fellow supporters, experiencing a City and an alternative football culture before watching their side lock horns with a foreign foe in their own stadium and ensure their heroes ‘never walk alone’.

Liverpool, Spurs and Sevilla fans have all gone to Rome. On each occasion a number of the supporters of those clubs have returned from Rome carrying scars that will always mark their skin, not to mention the mental scars of such an assault that will always impact their futures. Celtic supporters have now been added to that grouping.

The unfortunate difference between those fans and ours is that if you believe the majority of Scottish media coverage, Celtic fans had asked for it. In the build-up we had articles warning that the Ultras would be out to get Celtic, words like ‘revenge’ and ‘retribution’ bandied about already preparing the narrative in advance.

Almost every article reporting these criminal and violent assaults in the last couple of days mentioned the Green Brigade and their banners from the home leg, this was clearly a media trying to engineer a direct correlation between Lazio fans being out to hurt Celtic fans and the political persuasion of our own Ultras.

The fact it had happened to almost very side to visit Rome on European business and many of Italy’s own away supporters visiting the Eternal City remarkably airbrushed from the media’s pre-set agenda. Celtic fans had been victims but it was their own fault, they’d travelled knowing full well the risk so it was their own doing, they probably agreed with the Mussolini banner and were sympathetic to the Green Brigade so it’s their own making when they get stabbed. Victim blaming.

Victim blaming as the quote at the start of the article says, allows some sort of reasoning to an event that allows the person dishing out the blame some sort of security. Had it not been for the victim’s actions it would never have occurred. Like some sort of comfort blanket. If you don’t court trouble, trouble will never land at your door.

Just as the provocatively dressed woman being assaulted is to blame and the blamers own daughter wouldn’t be at risk, as it wouldn’t happen to a well behaved girl who dresses modestly. Completely ignoring the predatory nature of the individual perpetrating the crime, and that such actions are about exerting power, control and creating fear rather than some sort of gratification at the act itself. It’s completely missing the point that while blaming the victim they absolve the perpetrator. That’s the bit that gets missed.

The harsh reality is that an element within a support that no doubt has a majority of decent upstanding men and women who simply watch Lazio as that’s the team they support, is violent and wants to make the travelling support fear their visit to the Stadio Olimpico.

It’s not enough to make the ground intimidating they want the streets to feel the same, they want supporters of the opposition to be looking over their shoulder at every turn they are exerting power, control and creating fear. Haven’t the Far Right always used such tactics?

What could and should have happened was Lazio and Celtic fans at the opposite ends of the political spectrum would have the free expression to air their alternative political opinions. Many would have done just that, but see that other element, they’re not interested in supporting a football team, not really, the politics itself is even a vehicle only.

Underneath it all they are just downright nasty individuals with a thirst to inflict pain and hurt on individuals on their territory. If it wasn’t football it would be something else they’d hijack to engineer the opportunity to be violent. It’s all about the power and creating the fear.

The problem is when the media in instances like this blame the victim it allows the individuals who carry it out to avoid the scrutiny. Without that scrutiny that the media could shine a torch on, there is no swell of public opinion to meat out justice to these perpetrators it’s why they just keep getting away with it. It will never happen to us we don’t antagonise. Nonsense.

When political slogans are exchanged however distasteful one finds the other it’s simply a public airing of alternative views. When a flag flies and another counters it’s message it remains civil even if some find a message distasteful.

When someone takes it to the next level and trusts a knife into someone it is the individual carrying out the act that is to blame, not the man having a cigarette outside a bar, not the guys whose bus breaks down and not the guys flying flags a fortnight earlier in another City.

You see, back to that bus driver. If it was all about Lazio fans lust for revenge that driver would have stayed with the bus and called a replacement. He’d have assumed he’d be safe, but he knew differently.

Those Ultras have a reputation he was aware of, he knew he was in danger also. They wouldn’t discriminate, he was in as much danger from the perpetrators of violence as Celtic fans. Their motivation wasn’t Celtic that was just an excuse, an opportunity for barbarity.

No-one brought this on themselves. Three Celtic supporters are permanently disfigured. They will now return and long after the physical wounds have healed the mental anguish every time they attend a football match, if they ever do so again will stay with them, possibly forever.

These three Celtic supporters were the victims. They weren’t to blame, nor was the Green Brigade or the majority of Lazio fans.

The blame lies squarely at the door of a minority of violent cowards who carried out vicious attacks on innocent people following their football club with pride.

Niall J


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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

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