The S.F.A have been very active in there promotion of the Show Racism the Red Card campaign, which aims to end racism in Scottish football. However a fundamental flaw in the campaign is that fact that it is almost completely ignorant of the main type of racism within Scottish football. The campaign shows very little evidence of any engagement with the racism shown to the Irish community, and it seems that this is an issue that both the S.F.A and S.R.R.C would rather stay clear of. Show Racism the Red Card has done very little in the way of condemning ‘The Famine Song’.
Perhaps the most shocking example being on the 1st of November 2008 where Show Racism the Red Card campaigned at various football grounds around the country to raise awareness of racism in Scottish football, one of the grounds included that day was Fir Park home to Motherwell F.C. On this same day Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy was racially abused by the Motherwell fans who greeted his every touch of the ball with the chant “You’re in the wrong F***ing country”. Following the incident there was no statement released by S.R.R.C condemning the Motherwell fans, which is hugely disappointing for an organisation aiming to end racism within football. This disappointed is shared by the members of the Green Brigade who regularly show their support for the Irish community in Scotland, stating that “there’s been no action taken on the Famine Song or other Anti-Irish incidents, and Show Racism the Red Card have been almost completely silent on the issues”. Clearly this is a huge problem within Scottish society and something that Show Racism the Red Card need to do a lot more in tackling.
The Scottish football media also play a large role in the acceptance of anti-Irishness in Scottish football. Dr Joe Bradley states that “Research shows that the Scottish media is a significant part of the problem of anti-Irishness within Scottish football and society more generally.” The Scottish media is known to be infamously backwards. A perfect example being Radio Clyde and Evening Times journalist Peter Martin changing his name from Peter McGuire. Is “McGuire” too Irish a name to be successful in the Scottish media? In November 2007 Sky Sports presenter and key member of the Scottish press Jim White was caught live on-air saying “Oh here we go again, the tottie famine”. This incident happened during a match between Celtic F.C and Manchester United while the Celtic fans sang Fields of Athenry, a song to commemorate the people that died in the great Irish famine. This incident was unsurprisingly picked up by none of the Scottish media in the following days. Following examples such as these it is hardly surprising that the Scottish media painted the vile and racist Famine Song as a “bit of banter”.
This is the, almost, unanimous view of the Famine song amongst the Scottish media, with the odd exception of a few journalists speaking out against the incident. Notably Graham Spiers of The Times who described the song as “deplorable and racist”, a view that most of his media counterparts disagreed with. The more common view being that of Bill Leckie The Scottish Sun`s sports editor, who stated in his paper on the 17th of September 2008 that “The famine song is a total wind-up. It is also not bigoted”. With the media treating a song that tells people of a certain ethnicity to “Go home” it is hardly surprising that anti-Irish racism is seen as acceptable within Scottish society. The Green Brigade provide some reasons for why they feel anti-Irish racism is so widely accepted by the Scottish media “In the case of anti-Irish racism they would rather pander to the bigots and paint the Famine Song as a bit of banter. I reckon a large part of this is because there is no recognition of any Irish community in Scotland and a widespread belief that anyone expressing Irishness should ‘go home’ or is ‘in the wrong f***ing country’”. Certainly it would seem this is an issue that the media would rather ignore or paint as a bit of fun rather that tackle the issue head on.
The S.F.A, Show Racism the Red Card and the media are all equally guilty in the acceptance of this deplorable racism that is rotting Scottish football. Scottish football needs to move into the modern era and remove itself from this disgusting racism. In order to do this the S.F.A need to send out a strong, clear message that this is NOT acceptable. Show Racism the Red Card need to also need to play an active role in educating people, especially young people that anti-Irish racism like all forms of racism is NOT acceptable. Finally the media need to take a lead from other professions and change the age old attitude of ‘No Irish Need Apply’, they also need to see that this IS racism just like any other form of racism and deal with it as such. The ‘it’s just a bit of banter’ attitude within the media needs to change, like all other forms of racism it is NOT ‘banter’.
If Scottish football is to change and bring itself out of the narrow minded bigoted rut it is stuck in just now, these three key bodies need to stand up and face the problem that has scarred Scottish football for far too long. If they continue to accept this the problem will only get worse. More and more racist songs will appear and will be passed down to future generations and less and less talented Irish footballers will want to play in Scotland for fear of the abuse they will face. It is time to deal with this problem; it has been accepted by those that can make a change for far too long. Time to recognise this as the serious problem that it is.