I do not believe that football is the place for politics, and as such I keep them apart. However, I have never been so disgusted and section of a football support as when I saw this image:
Evelyn Beatrice Hall who said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” had clearly never experienced anything as morally corrupt as this performance by a section (which was a minority) of the Celtic support.
Remembrance Sunday is not about glorifying war. Nor is it about glorifying the British Army. It is about honouring the fallen.
Celtic claim that they are a multi-cultural club and they respect other people’s beliefs (yet I remember a Palestinian flag being displayed by the Celtic support at Rugby Park, despite Biram Kayal and Israeli being in their squad) pity some elements of their fan base, primarily the Comrades and the Green Brigade, continue to shame the club with their anti-poppy protests.
I am not suggesting that everyone needs to agree with the Poppy Scotland Campaign, nor am I suggesting that everyone should donate. It would however appear that a little respect, is too much to ask.
The Green Brigade have in recent years done a lot of good work, in terms of their anti-racism and anti-facism work, though this performance may have undone a lot of that. Judging by the reaction on message boards and in todays newspapers, even the Celtic support have been critical of this performance.
The official statement by the Green Brigade was as follows;
At half-time during today’s match against Aberdeen we displayed message banners calling for ‘No bloodstained poppys on our hoops’ in protest at the Club’s decision to once again wear the poppy on our shirts during next week’s game at St Mirren (a match our group will not attend because of this decision). This is in support of an appeal by Poppyscotland to all SPL clubs. Poppyscotland describes its role as ‘supporting heroes’ and state that ‘the poppy has become a symbol of remembrance and for the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces’. Our group and many within the Celtic support do not recognise the British Armed Forces as heroes, nor their role in many conflicts as one worthy of our remembrance. Earlier this year, the Saville Report on Bloody Sunday confirmed that 14 unarmed civilians were murdered in Derry in 1972 by the Paratroop Regiment. They were among hundreds killed by the British Army during the most recent phase of conflict in Ireland. More recently, the British Armed Forces have murdered and maimed many thousands more innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. The poppy remembers not just our grandfathers who fought the Nazis but also those who bombed the Belgrano and brutally occupied the streets of Belfast and Basra. While we recognise the right of individuals to remember their dead and that many within the Celtic support will wear the poppy in memory of family and friends lost in WW2 and other conflicts, we cannot accept the imposition of the poppy onto our shirts.
As far back as April, representatives from the Green Brigade, Celtic Supporters Association and Celtic Trust met with Peter Lawwell to express our united opposition to the Club imposing the poppy on the first team jersey. We also know that the AICSC and many other individual supporters had called on the Club to reverse their position of previous years and take the poppy off the shirt. Following our meeting in April, the Club were contacted on several occasions for further dialogue on the issue but informed us that they were still considering their position and would get back to us. The first any group knew of the decision was after it had been made, and publicly announced. We share the views of the AICSC whose recent statement on the poppy stated that ‘to see the jersey being used as a medium for such a divisive symbol and the message it communicates is deplorable’, and that it showed a complete lack of respect for the support, further highlighted by repeated declarations on the official website of Celtic’s delight to be wearing the poppy and supporting Poppyscotland. It appears rather than leave his politics at the door, chairman John Reid, the former Armed Forces Minister and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Defence, has forced his onto the first team jersey.
As you may have noticed at today’s game, we mistakenly missed out the ‘D’ in ‘bloodstained’. This happened in the rush to finish two displays for todays game (with our ‘Show the SFA the red card’ action before the match). The real mistake, however, is the Club forcing the poppy onto our shirt.”
It would appear then that, they have taken issue with the murder of innocent civilians amongst other things. Last year during the Falkirk v Celtic game on November 8th, Celtic fans (from outside the ground) sang so-called rebel songs over the minute’s silence. I guess it’s okay to glorify murdering innocent civillians if it goes to a jaunty tune.
And this is what it is vital to remember. Nobody is wearing a poppy to support war or bloodshed. But to commemorate the lives of the fallen, who fought for our freedom. And still are fighting for our freedom today. The number of Scottish soldiers who died in WWI alone, works out as over 100 soldiers per day for 4 years. Imagine the heartbreak and suffering it caused. Nowadays the Poppy appeal is helping soldiers who served and are serving in Afghanistan, just because this is an ‘unpopular war’ is irrelevant, foreign policy is not dictated by the military.
Our right to exercise an opinion and have freedom of speech was protected and fought for by the people we commemorate, and far be it from me to deny this group of fans their right to protest. If you don’t agree with the politics behind it, like the Green Brigade themselves stated – “leave it at the door.” Don’t buy your poppy, don’t donate your money and if it causes you such strong ill feeling, stand outside until the minute’s silence is over.
No comment as of yet from the Celtic Chairman
The silence from former Defence Secretary and now Celtic Chairman, John Reid is deafening. And this, says a lot more about the politics of Celtic FC than any statement ever could.
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