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On air at 1100GMT: Is sectarianism still Scotland's shame?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:30 UK time, Wednesday, 20 April 2011


It's just football, but to some people it is so much more. Celtic manager Neil Lennon is one of three people to be sent parcel bombs in the post. They were originally thought to be elaborate hoaxes designed to scare, but after further examination police say they had the capability to maim or kill.

For people outside of Scotland, or not followers of football, they can sometimes struggle to understand the passion felt by supporters of both Celtic and Rangers - Glasgow's two main clubs. Known as the old firm - they have deep religious roots and divisions. Celtic fans are traditionally Catholic and Rangers fans predominately Protestant.

Although both clubs attract support from other sections of society, it is this religious divide which has come to define the fixture's 100 years plus history.

Brian Ponsonby, a BBc Scotland reporter says,

"For many Celtic fans, their club is an integral part of the Irish diaspora, and embodies a unique Irish Scots identity that has overcome discrimination in employment, housing and education to fully play a part in modern Scotland."

Both clubs fans frequently sing sectarian songs, which would never be accepted in any other context. Why are they at football?


It''s not the first time that Neil Lennon has been targetted. Due to captain his country in a match against Cyprus in 2002, a death threat was made via a phone call to the BBC. Lennon quit international football. He's also been assulted in the street, had bullets and a fake nail bomb sent to him and has a panic button in his home.

Violence also goes hand in hand with football matches between these clubs. When they met in March police say anti-social behaviour and drunkenness more than doubled, with 187 arrests and 139 fixed penalty notices issued.

The force is now leading the charge against an attitude among some fans that somehow this is an acceptable part of normal life in Glasgow. Last month Scottish Football Association Chief Executive Stewart Regan told MPs it could take a generation to wipe sectarianism out of the Old Firm derby altogether.

David Whyte on Facebook says ,

As a Glasgow native, I can report that things are a LOT better than they were years ago. There remains a few sad twisted idiots on either side of the 'divide' with nothing else in their lives but to vainly continue with senseless sectarianism.

dawnpurvis‎ tweets,
The bigot that threatened Neil Lennon represents no-one and has succeeded in uniting players and supporters in condemnation.

We'll be speaking to people associated with the clubs on both sides about whether this latest incident hould and will be the catalyst to tackle this deep rooted problem.

Celtic and Rangers meet again in five days time - will anything be different?

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