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BBC Scotland bottle out of asking Clement about ‘sectarian chanting’

This morning the BBC Scotland nervously joined the dots between a statement made by Hibs saying that enough was enough and the sectarian chanting heard by Sevco fans during Sunday’s Scottish Cup tie at Easter Road.

If the Edinburgh club hadn’t been inundated by complaints from their supporters there would have been no statement and nothing for the BBC to reluctantly cover.

With radio, television and online coverage of the match there wasn’t any mention from the state broadcaster about the constant anti-Irish and anti-Catholic singing that was clear on BBC radio and Viaplay Sports coverage of the match.

It is an issue that the BBC know well, in 2015 Chris McLaughlin mentioned it during a radio commentary leading to a seven year stand off between the broadcaster and the Ibrox club.

The report this morning was so important it was on the news page of the BBC website, more than a football or sporting issue despite the 24 hour silence after the match until Hibs issued their ‘enough is enough’ statement.

McLaughlin explained:

Make no mistake, Hibs have rocked the boat and in doing so, they have also raised the spectre of strict liability.

Their statement calling on everyone to act was borne of home fans’ frustration at some of the sectarian chants heard during their Scottish Cup match with Rangers.

In calling that and other issues out, Hibs were also quick to admit they have problems of their own.

Anyone who saw the chilling image of the freshly thrown bottle opener, lying in the grass beside Hearts forward Lawrence Shankland during the recent Edinburgh derby, would agree.

In state of the art stadiums packed with CCTV, the coins and pies of the past have been joined by lighters, vapes and bottle openers. There are some arrests but the problem persists.

It’s a similar story with pyrotechnics.

Warnings have been issued, sniffer dogs deployed but the flares and smoke bombs persist.

As for the issue once described as Scotland’s shame – few would argue that sectarianism isn’t alive and kicking inside Scottish football grounds in 2024.

Songs that many thought were confined to the 1970s and ’80s are back and being chanted, seemingly unchallenged.

Unlike Hibs, BBC Scotland won’t rock the boar, especially with their special relationship at Ibrox which allows Tom English to interview Jack Butland in a manner that would leave Jim White, Chick Young or James Traynor blushing.

As luck would have it there was a media conference today with Philippe Clement and James Tavernier, the perfect opportunity to get the view of the manager and captain of the fans that ad polluted the airwaves on Sunday.

As a bonus Tavernier was part of the team that played UEFA matches in 2019 with part of the stadium closed off due to previous instances of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic chanting.

It was an open goal for Kheredine Idessane to ask the questions, create some headlines and follow up to McLaughlin’s news piece in the morning. Sadly his bottle crashed.

Idessane asked two blundering questions, one of which was if Clement had ever been involved in a European quarter-final, the sort of question that can be answered in under a minute by Google.

Appropriately his question was followed followed by questions from Mark Dingwall.

Tennis expert Idessane isn’t afraid to go off the beaten track with questions that don’t directly relate to the match, in September 2022 he was part of the BBC team in Warsaw for Celtic’s Champions League tie against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Hi Ange, how are you? Em, the whole of the commonwealth has been em paying tribute to em the passing of Her Majesty the Queen. I just wonder how you reflect personally yourself on that and whether we’d a see a show of respect or tribute tomorrow in terms of what UEFA are thinking about in terms of a minute’s silence?

Unlike Idessane and his grieveing BBC colleagues Postecoglou had a job of work to do, to prepare his side for a Champions League tie instead of feigning concern for an elderly woman that he had never met. Life most certainly goes on, jobs have to be done, tasks continue, the world remaining spinning despite the compulsory mourning of many in the British media.

It seems that when it comes to news stories from football conferences the tough questions will only be asked to one Glasgow club.

McLaughlin’s article this morning concluded with:

Fines, point deductions and even stadium closures are among the powers available to European governing body, UEFA who uses the system in its competitions.

The SFA has asked Hibs to state their case at an annual review of the association’s rules but they’ll do so knowing the governing body and the SPFL aren’t keen.

They know that most clubs will be happy to take the hit and provide proof they tried their best to prevent.

What both governing bodies want is more action from the police – the police want more action from them.

The Scottish government watch on bruised from their previous involvement, and mostly ambivalent, hoping that football can sort itself.

So, for now, it’s left to Hibs to try where others have failed. If enough is really to be enough, they’ll need others to help their push.

Clearly BBC Scotland can be counted out of giving the issue a push going by their presence at that media conference.

Tomorrow night Kenny Macintyre will be providing live coverage of the match from Ibrox, joined by Kenny Miller, Billy Dodds, Neil McCan, Lee McCulloch and Steven Thompson for unrivalled and in depth coverage.

BBC Scotland is entirely funded by the BBC TV licence.

CLICK HERE for 15 shocking referee decisions given against Celtic.



11 minutes 30 seconds

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