I actually began writing this piece on 22nd October. It followed a UEFA mishap where the governing body posted, then pulled, a picture relating to Celtic’s most recent punishment from the CFR Cluj game in Glasgow.
The portrayal in the image itself was not the cause of the fine. The fireworks that were set off at the time of the display were.
Despite the act not being shown in said image, the link between the two was obvious. The whole world and its wife jumped on this of course, especially after UEFA realised caught wind of this took it off-line.
However, social media has some sharp folk out there. Sharper than UEFA it would seem.
A screen grab of the original Tweet did the rounds and everyone weighed in. Accusing UEFA of double standards repeatedly in the process.
There’s no doubt UEFA messed up. Or at least, one person did.
It doesn’t detract from the fact that a minority of Celtic fans cost their club yet another fine. Personally, I didn’t really care that much about the UEFA Tweet.
I’d feel forthright about it myself if Celtic had been dealt an injustice, but they hadn’t. The fine was, in line with the rules, fair and square and UEFA posting a Tweet which wasn’t thought through doesn’t make it the same.
What those Celtic fans did on this or any other occasion was punishable. This behaviour will continue by a small percentage of fans in our support and without remorse.
At the original time of writing, my next few sentences were going to be:
“Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again on Thursday when Lazio come to town. We don’t need any unwanted attention when their fans are visiting.
If anything, we should be vigilant. The Roman club have gotten themselves in the dock recently for racist behaviour within their support.
The lenient sentence handed down to the Italians is certainly worth addressing with UEFA. Their social media gaff is nowhere near as eye bulging as their handling of racist behaviour in the Lazio support though.”
The latter of the above was a missed opportunity for UEFA to crack down on racism. Whilst the actions of our own fans at Celtic Park was in reaction to that, it has landed the club in hot water again.
For an illicit banner and chanting, the club were fined €15,000. It didn’t end there of course because some of our fans were back on UEFA’s radar when we played Lazio two weeks later in Rome.
Despite the memorable double win over the Italian’s, pyrotechnics were out in Stadio Olimpico by some of the travelling Celtic support. A hearing is set for December and the outcome is likely to be anything between €10,000-€15,000.
Last night, Celtic announced partial closure of the safe standing area where most of our home fines have originated from. This, has caused outrage amongst the support after Celtic released a statement in relation to ongoing behaviour and UEFA punishment.
“Celtic has ultimate responsibility for the safety of all our supporters and it is a responsibility which we take very seriously.
We need to tackle any behaviour which can compromise the safety of our supporters including the use of pyrotechnics, overcrowding and offensive chanting or banners.
Following the latest UEFA disciplinary decision we can confirm that there will be a partial closure of the rail seating section at Celtic Park for the forthcoming match against Rennes.
All those supporters affected will be notified and will receive a refund.
This decision follows similar significant sanctions being imposed against the Club already this season for the use of pyrotechnics during the matches against CFR Cluj and AIK Stockholm.
The Club also faces another UEFA charge for the use of pyrotechnics during the match in Rome recently and this will be heard on 12th December 2019.
Regrettably, these charges and sanctions continue to damage the Club’s reputation and this behaviour continues to threaten supporter safety.
UEFA’s rules and the Club’s long-established ground regulations are very clear. Indeed, the Club engages in regular dialogue with all supporters groups to ensure these are well known and understood.
We have considered this matter very carefully. It is disappointing that behaviour which is unsafe and which we all know will breach UEFA and Club regulations has continued.
N.B. supporters in rows A-M will be affected.”
I’ve digested a fair amount of mixed reaction to this. There was even a poll asking our fans whether Celtic were wrong to take this course of action.
Rather than accept any wrongdoing, there’s a healthy amount of Celtic supporters who believe that they have been betrayed by the club. That innocent supporters have been hung out to dry.
I don’t doubt the club have done this to make and example of those guilty. The thinking behind this is that perhaps those who aren’t guilty may be able to influence from within.
Am I certain that will work? Nope, not in the slightest.
Because as we have seen for the past few months, some Celtic fans love their pyro and don’t give a toss how much it costs the club and will not heed any advice. The club have been criticised for making such a late announcement, the proximity of it to the AGM and match itself, whilst failing to open a discussion about how to resolve this.
I mean, am I missing something here? According to some the club aren’t dealing with this well at all.
How exactly do you deal with a pyro-weilding bunch of nuggets who aren’t willing to listen? I sense this issue runs much deeper between club and fan.
We’ve had issues with policing at games and the heavy handedness of the authorities. That of course, was mainly to do with the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act which of course has now been repealed.
Celtic were criticised by their fans for not showing enough support during those times. The club were already dissatisfied with fan behaviour though when their own supporters were breaking their own seating at Celtic Park.
One Celtic site wrote that a dialogue should be opened. I don’t disagree that it would help in the long term but please, for the love of god accept the consequences of your actions a just stop.
Do not disguise your behaviour with the failings of our club. Everyone has a responsibility here.
Board members, coaching staff, players and supporters. Jock Stein famously said “football is nothing without fans.”
Start acting like fans. Behave.