The above comments are all from the message board of the bunch of happy, carefree, foot soldiers of the Tartan Army racist regiment. This, of course, is the same group who are demanding an apology because a young, perhaps foolish Brazilian kid added up constant booing and banana throwing and came up with racism. Crazy Neymar! Whilst fully respecting that a number of the Celtic support are also supporters of the Scottish national side, the above comments towards players of an Irish heritage can only serve to rile the supporters of a club founded upon the principle of feeding the poverty stricken Irish community in the east end of Glasgow. Whilst McCarthy has no connection with Celtic, the fact that a young boy’s promise to his dying Grandfather has resulted in this level of castigation is simply a further reinforcement of the ills that underline Scottish society, and particular its attitudes towards the Irish. This is the same country that tried to ignore the Irish completely in its ‘One Scotland, Many Cultures’ initiative. Is choosing to play for the nation of a Grandparent over the country of your birth a sure indication of being a ‘wee racist turd’ (copyright TA board member brant grebner)? Is this the same delusional point of view that led some to scream with rage at Artur Boruc committing a sin on par with high treason – crossing himself at the theatre of hatred?
If McCarthy is the latest example, the modern demonization of Irish heritage begins with Aiden McGeady. For all his exasperating features on the park, the abuse sent in his direction was the igniting of a change in attitude within myself from casual supporter of the Scottish national side, to all out animosity. This without even being able to qualify for Ireland via the Grandparent rule, a rule the Scots despise so much that they are happy for players such as Bardsley, Quashie and Commons to take full advantage of, whilst even trying desperately to secure Hooper’s services. Why not label McGeady as a Scottish born Irishman, rather than terms like ‘turncoat’ and ‘traitor’? The answers are obvious, and they exist within the casual anti-Irish racism that permeates the core of Scotland. This is a strong reason to hate international football in all its forms, and a further lamenting of how backwards this country can truly be. International football only truly comes alive during summer tournaments. For an intense moment in time, they create an exotic surrounding, with players that even a saturated TV coverage of football has not yet detected, played in some cities that only the most worldly traveller has heard of. In short, World Cups and European Championships are like a short fling: passionate, all encompassing, and one that burns bright and fades fast. The long term commitment of club football soon returns. But only those who are overtly nationalistic or clueless about the game truly care more about their country than their club. International football, above all other forms of the game, manages to encapsulate a small minded mentality amongst many that somehow sees tournaments not as a party of diverse people coming together to embrace a magical event, but a combat style mentality, with soldiers of nations squaring off in battle. Which brings us back to the tartan army, with the imaginary regiments and bizarre foot soldiers marching on European cities to spread the good word of small minded island mentality. This may be a little unfair on those that do see international football as a way of meeting new people, but small aspect such as the playing of national anthems can create the notion that you are in effect representing a country in a conflict. Football is far greater than to ever be tied in with something as pointless as war (and that even includes Honduras and El Salvador).
If I am asked which ‘international’ team I support by those who are genuinely intrigued by whether I say Scotland, England or Ireland, I always respond with Celtic. The frowned expressions are then extended so as to include a justification. Celtic is the team of my heritage. They speak to me more than any nation could, with a multicultural playing staff and supporters from all walks of life. I do not need a flag of a nation to divide me from being a citizen of the world. I am not criticising nationalism in all its forms, as I believe that the struggle for Irish independence is a valid and necessary one even in times today, but international football manages to create an uncomfortable feeling, especially in a country that will happily express racist views towards players who are fulfilling the wish of Grandparents. Until these attitudes are altered right across every bigoted pore of society, international football will always leave a taste as sour as listening to someone wishing to be up to their knees in my blood. Shameful, shocking and shambolic.