When football clubs become voices of political ideals and religion
For my US readers I am talking about (Soccer) football…
This blog is a strange one coming from me as I do not usually go into current affairs (with the exception of a few posts about Scottish Independence) and I am even curious whether this post will even reach the blogosphere after I type it. The reason for this is because simply that this is not the reason why God pressed on my heart to use my writing and it is not the reason for this website. The reason for this website is to do bible studies and get some doctrine out there that will help people find their messiah Jesus Christ, not to discuss something that will probably blow over in five minutes.
That being said, I am a product of the West Central Scotland where the names “Rangers” and “Celtic” are much more than football clubs. There is a traditional mentality (right or wrong) that the two sets of customers for supporting of these Scottish Football institutions should be separated by denomination. That the Rangers are only for the Protestants (or Proddies in West Scotland slang) and Celtic was “the Catholic club”. (Which I find ironic as “Catholic in its truest sense means universal”)
Why did I write this?
Celtic are coming in for criticism for their display against the Israeli team Haepol Beer Sheva where many of their most vociferous fans held up Palestinian flags and have since fell foul of the UEFA rule that states the following…
“The European governing body’s rules prohibit the use of “any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature”.”
And to use a phrase of my new homeland the USA “This is not their first rodeo” because they have been looked at EIGHT times and found to be wanting based on UEFA’s guidelines for supporter conduct.
I know the folks that want to diss Celtic at any costs will bring up past behaviors’ such as flying the flag of the Irish Republic, other dubious flags, singing songs of Irish history that would be classified as “rebel” or “dubious” really won’t help in this discussion and I know that people will want to draw a IRA-PLO link that may or may not be there but the nuts and bolts of it is Celtic are a business, a business that has had a drop in attendance due to Rangers being liquidated and starting again in the 4th tier.
They have had 5 years of the league not having much of a challenge and the company side of Celtic could really do with not alienating potential clients and there are many who do not have the stomach to hear terrorist songs or political displays. I know the guys in the Green Brigade could not care less about the plc’s bottom line but they would do well to remember the pre Fergus McCann days where the team was almost wound up with a crumbling stadium and mounting debts, Celtic were technically insolvent.
Fast forward to present and they now have 60,000 seats in a decent stadium that 95% of the seats offer a decent view. If they ever brought up the main stand to the same level as the rest of the stadium they would have around 80,000 (potentially more with the introduction of safe standing) and all the seats would then have an excellent view due to the offending support pillars no longer being needed. However that is unlikely to happen if the team continues in a league with no discernable title challenger. As stated previously they are not filling their current stadium so why spend millions building more seats.
It’s just banter!
Some will dismiss this as banter, such as “Argentina” chants when a Scottish team plays England but this really is not actually banter as there is a real conflict between the people who are loyal to the flag that they are taunting the Israelis with and the state of Israel. It is anti-Semitism at its core and if it was meant to be humorous then it missed the mark worse than an Anton Rogan clearance.
The “Celtic song” has the following lyrics…
“It’s a grand old team to play for, it’s a grand old team to sing, if you know your history”…
Let’s look at the history then, it is interesting they used the term “FREE PALESTINE” as this is blatantly incorrect because the state they wish to be recognized as a nation turned down the last opportunity to become a nation when it was offered by the UN in 1948. (The same time Israel became one) and the state of British Palestine actually was a flag which was sky blue and white halves with a gold Star of David. (I did not see any of them in the Green Brigade section?) Perhaps they do not “know their history?”
Celtic’s history – the poor man’s club
Celtic are known for championing causes and they have done many benevolent acts such as turning over their stadium for charity events and they were founded as a club to help those poor families in the East End of Glasgow, many of whom happened to be Irish and much like clubs in Dundee and Edinburgh, they became the club championed by the Catholic supporters and in some cases the Irish immigrants in those relevant cities. Unlike Rangers who would not proactively sign a Roman Catholic (and the first high profile signing was in 1989 when ex Celtic player Mo Johnston signed for Graeme Souness) conversely when Celtic had their greatest achievement in 1967 they had a few non-Catholics playing for them.
I really do not get the fascination with the Palestinian cause, I get that most of the Celtic fans are “cultural-Catholics” and couldn’t tell you the name of their local priest but even with the most basic of biblical knowledge they will know that God still has a special place for Israel so why are they actively choosing to go against the God that is a major part of the faith that they champion being such a big part of their identity?
Celtic or Rangers – Which one are you?
Actually neither! I come at it from a slightly unique point of view as I used to be employed by Celtic in the retail division and as hard as it may be to believe for the most ardent “Old Firm” fan but there was once upon a time someone who was known to be a “Proddy” and who used his “Sunday name” William and he answered the phone in most of Glasgow’s branches of the Celtic Shop and also the Mail Order line at some point in his Celtic career, and guess what – Celtic Park did not crumble! John Barnes was the manager around the time so the fans were preoccupied with what was unfolding (or not) on the green stuff in the middle of the stadium rather on me in the retail section.
Actually I only had an issue once and that was from two wee guys with Northern Irish accents and they were having issues spending a “Northern Bank” 20 pound note and it was a new girl on the cash desk who I had to approve this as Northern Irish money is legal tender in parts of the UK. (The girl had never seen one before so she called me over to make sure it was legit) and during the transaction they inquired why a Catholic would be called “William” to which I replied “Actually I am a Presbyterian” as I handed the kids their change, the look they gave me was priceless and symbolizes what happens if you project your prejudices on your kids.
To call myself a Protestant in those days of my life would be a slap in the face to those who set the reformation in progress, stalwarts like Knox, Wishart, Luther would not have recognized my life as “Christ like” and it was simply a cultural attachment more than an active church going/relationship with Jesus type of thing.
So how come you do a Christian blog now?
That has all changed and I am the worst type or “Proddy” as I am one of those annoying ones that is a “true believer” one that couldn’t really care what tribe you belong to on a Sunday as long as you truly worship the messiah you claim to represent. Really that is all that matters! There would be nothing to divide over if it wasn’t for that fundamental faith, if you are clinging onto that and not even attending the church you represent then you are not what you claim to be. Confusing stuff huh?
I moved passed the buildings of worship and found the reason behind it all and that was Jesus Christ, I worship at a new cathedral and that is the throne of grace. I don’t attend Scottish football anymore but that is because I live in the USA and my closest MLS franchise is some 200 miles away in Los Angeles.
You are a Zionist
Not as far as I know, I love the State of Israel because I believe that God is not finished with them yet, however many within that state have still to come to a knowledge of their Messiah. Do I think that Israel does everything right? Absolutely not as it is governed by men who make mistakes, there are faults on both sides in the Middle East conflict. I am not anti-Palestine, anti-Arab or anti-Islam because I believe that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) but that can be resolved by finding Jesus as your Messiah.
Something to say?
I welcome debate but comments like “IRA loving” Terrorist supporting” PLO loving” or other fun stuff like that really won’t add to debate and often times I won’t even let them through! Feel free to comment otherwise though!
Please make your own application as needed.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.