Fans Against Criminalisation – in Scozia e in Italia

Guest Blog by FEDAYN
FAC1

As many people are increasingly beginning to realise (Stuart Waiton’s recent article being a well-written example), to the authorities, football fans in general are viewed more as a potential disorder incident and as ‘pests’ to be dealt with than as the people upon whom the very existence of football depends. The political class view football fans, especially those from traditional working class supports and backgrounds, not as people to be welcomed into towns and stadiums to enjoy the spectacle, but as people to be policed, herded, harassed, and increasingly criminalised. Working class football fans are viewed more and more, as some might already have realised, as the new ‘enemy within’. A modern day moral panic, the new hordes to be policed, not kept safe; to be corralled, not directed; to be dealt with, not helped; to be harassed, not welcomed.

focus-officer-identificationThe introduction of the SNP’s much-criticised ‘Offensive Behaviour at Football and Communications Act 2012’, the proverbial sledgehammer to crack a tiny peanut, in the wake of the over-hyped and theatrically entitled and publically, privately and frankly ludicrously overhyped ‘Shame Game’, gives more than ample evidence of that. That football fans are viewed in such a way is probably not a surprise to many longstanding terrace/seat sufferers both here and beyond however. Currently, the talk of the steamie amongst many fans in and of Scottish football is the Green Brigade, a now fairly well-known Ultra group at Celtic. The recent police actions and harassment of both alleged members of the group and other spectators in section 111 of Celtic Park indicates the attitude of the police and legal authorities. Amidst numerous cries of appalling behaviour, alleged criminality and other such blood curdling claims, it is worth noting that every single Celtic fan (whether Green Brigade or not, or simply a season ticket/matchgoer in section 111) who has pled not guilty to the charges under this piece of legislation has left court an innocent man. Whether the case was thrown out, a not guilty verdict or a not proven verdict has ensued; not one single guilty verdict has followed a not guilty plea. So, If the legal system has established a lack of criminality in every single case so far, why the continuing harassment such as the fans witnessed prior to the recent game vs. Dundee United?! Why the continuing attacks and criticisms of a group of football fans who simply want to support their team in their way? One might ask that question of our current political ‘leaders’? Surely they are not saying that yes, we like your colourful support, your songs, your displays and your humour. We like the fact that we made money out of your songs, your chants, your banners and your card displays, but we tell you what you can sing, we tell you what you can think, we will tell you what you can do and most importantly and most staggeringly hypocritical we will tell you what politics we want you to have… Now pay your money, take your seat, sit down and buy your top, juice and deliciously inedible horsemeat pie and you’ll like it…

tessera no grazieA look at the reaction to some of the recent displays at Celtic Park will indicate how many fans worldwide view the whole idea of Ultra culture. Whether it was the full stadium card-display to celebrate the club’s 125th birthday before the Champions League game vs. Barcelona (the sight of the stadium bathed in a card display planned by the group and set up by the group went worldwide, the plaudits also went worldwide. Friends of mine in Italy remarked, ‘this is football’), or latterly the Clash-inspired ‘London Calling’ banner prior to the Juventus game which also caught the imagination of various Italian fans. Like the Celtic fans they were enjoying the ‘Rubentus’ (Rubenti is Italian slang for thieves) on the badge, cruelly and superbly mocking the rather murky practices of Juventus which were recently exposed in a criminal trial. Italians on various social media remarked how the banner had caught their imagination and how they enjoyed it, Juve fans excepting of course. That the banner was so well received in Italy is no accident, the game being against Juve notwithstanding. For many, myself included, Italy is where ‘Ultra culture’ is at its most ‘beautiful’. The colourful, often rude, often abusive, sadly often racist/homophobic and far-right displays make football, as Alf Garnett once said, a genuine working class ballet. The choreographed displays, moving and impassioned, make the game that bit more exciting. The colours and ‘dance’ of the tifo displays make for a wonderful spectacle. As someone who has made numerous trips to watch Italian football I would defy anyone to disagree. However there is another link between football fans in Scotland, most notably the Green Brigade, and fans in Italy in general, and that is the repressive legislation and state apparatus brought to bear on fans.

fedaynlivornoThe repression and legislation brought to bear on Italian football/terrace culture is remarkable. One group, BAL 99 (Brigate Autonome Livornesi), were effectively criminalised under anti-terrorist legislation. Safe to say that the group were not terrorist. That they were openly Left-wing, avowedly anti-fascist/anti-racist is not in dispute, indeed it was/is a badge of pride for those members. However the fact that anti-terrorist legislation was used to crush a football supporters’ group, an ultra group, shows how determined the police and criminal authorities were to deal with them. Political legislation to deal with the political edge and banners of ultra culture was also brought to bear. Now, I share with other readers a political loathing and fundamental opposition to the racist/fascist politics both in and out of football stadiums, but for me it’s the job of progressive working class political movements/fan groups to deal with that reactionary element and allow the space for pro-working class politics in the curvas. The most recent attack on Italian ultra/football culture is the ‘Tessera del Tifoso’ which is a membership card. Without it you couldn’t buy a season ticket, you couldn’t travel to away games. A restriction on your ability, quite literally, to merely travel to an away game. To begin with the authorities accepted away fans without the Tessera in a ‘neutral’ area of the ground. But nearly all the time the non-tesserati outnumbered those who had the card. Pretty soon the authorities clamped down on the neutral area too. The membership card has been a disaster; obsessed with potential disorder policing, the authorities ignored the obvious- smaller clubs who played the bigger teams could no longer rely on that income, crowds dwindled, the atmosphere got flatter and flatter, football wasn’t winning. Modern football and repressive policing was damaging the very game they so sneeringly claimed they were trying to save…. Now it seems numerous clubs in both Serie A & B want to end the Tessera, in fact it became a small issue in the recent Italian elections. The attempt to make life difficult for fans to simply attend away games has resulted in financial troubles for the smaller clubs, a far bigger threat to football than anything Ultra culture has ever been guilty of.

ultraslibertySadly the Tessera has started to have a few echoes over here in Scotland. The recent penchant for putting names on tickets, a procedure not required by any legislation, is yet another slippery slope. The insistence for the away game vs. Juve that people will have to have their passports or a photo ID to corroborate they are the ticket owner, again not required by UEFA legislation and an Italian regulation about as enforced as the car horn laws in Paris, points to an ever-increasing clampdown on football fans in Scotland. The continuing clampdown on fans, the jockeying of FoCUS for more money in the current run-up to the annual police budgets, the complete refusal of politicians to see what’s in front of their faces is just another desperate attempt to totally sanitise football, strip it of any fan involvement let alone fan ‘control’, all part of the drive for ‘Modern Football’… As someone once so prophetically said, ‘First they came for the Jews, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew…’

As if to emphasise the drive to sanitise football I’m watching Everton beat Oldham in the FA Cup replay. Over the tannoy the stadium announcer makes clear that people who keep standing will be ejected from the stadium… Modern football is genuinely rubbish…’

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Everyone Must Stand Behind The Men Behind The Banners

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In response to recent harassment of them by the Strathlyde Police FoCUS Unit, Fans Against Criminalisation and Celtic ultras group the Green Brigade have produced a leaflet/pamphlet detailing the initimidation of the group by the police. It can be viewed/downloaded from the following link.

EVERYONE MUST STAND BEHIND THE MEN BEHIND THE BANNERS

All the fans are asking for is transparency from our club in regard to its dealings with the police FoCUS unit via its security personnel and for the FoCUS unit officers to be held accountable. The club would save a small fortune from the weekly policing bill were they to intimate to Stratchlyde Police that they did not require the deployment of the FoCUS unit at Celtic Park and that minor problems with fans would be resolved ‘in house’. The Green Brigade section poses no serious public order issue and does not require the attentions of a specialist ‘anti-hooligan’ police unit. The club would do better to consider dispensing with the hardman act towards these fans and employ a couple of liaison officers with some youth and community work experience who might be able to establish a rapport with the GB and thereby initiate a means of resolving contentious matters between the club and the fans through dialogue rather than conflict.

We make no apologies for once again tagging this post with information as to how Celtic fans can make their voices heard by complaining to the appropriate authorities about police misconduct.

TARGET THOSE WHO WOULD TARGET YOU

focus-officer-identification

If you have any information on the FoCUS unit please contact: talfanzine@gmail.com

PROTEST AND SURVIVE

To make a complaint against any police officer that you believe to be acting outside of their duties and remit as a public servant please contact the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police at:

Strathclyde Police Headquarters
173 Pitt Street
Glasgow
G2 4JS
Telephone: (UK) 0141 532 2000

Please ensure that your complaints are formal and non-abusive.

It would also be advisable to copy complaints to Fans Against Criminalisation and Celtic FC

Email: fansagainstcriminalisation@gmail.com
Email: operations@celticfc.co.uk

Strathclyde Police are also accountable to the Scottish Government.

The First Minister can be contacted at:

Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

On Twitter: @AlexSalmond

Meet The Strathclyde Police FoCUS Team

 

PCVernellFoCus

Nice work if you can get it – PC Vernell of the FoCus Unit ‘on duty’ in Barcelona

The man pictured above, lying in the street downing bottles of beer in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, is a Strathclyde Police Officer assigned to special ‘anti-hooligan’ duties with regard to football supporters. This is Officer Vernell of the FoCUS Team (Football Co-ordination Unit for Scotland) the ‘anti-hooligan’ squad that appears to spend an inordinate amount of its time harassing non-violent supporters of Celtic FC. Taxpayers must be relieved to see how well their money is being spent by Strathclyde’s finest and what a credit to their T-shirts and beer bottles these police officers are. Vernell (aka ‘Officer Dribble’) appears to thoroughly enjoy these wee jollies abroad at your expense. In fact, so much does he enjoy them that he has been observed laughing all the way to the bank. Remember, these officers are performing a difficult job in the most extreme circumstances (we understand that the sunshine was almost unbearable in Barcelona) so please give them all the support that you can by informing their superiors of just how much you approve of their holidays, er, ‘work’ abroad on the taxpayers’ tab. Information as to how your complaints can be registered is at the end of this article.

Let’s  Kick  FoCUS  Out  Of  Football.

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Sergeant Eleanor Murdoch of FoCUS – “unreliable evidence in court” (Herald)

Strathclyde Police must be particularly proud of the work of Sergeant Eleanor Murdoch. When the case against a 20 year old Celtic fan that she had accused of indulging in “IRA chants” at last February’s match between Inverness CT and Celtic came to court, the presiding Sheriff  said he was unable to accept Ms Murdoch’s evidence “in some respects”.

The evidence of her FoCUS Team colleague Sergeant Ian Spence, who apparently has superhuman hearing that can at some distance pick out and identify the chants of specific individuals in a crowd of thousands, was described by the same Sheriff as “unreliable”.

The ridiculous trumped-up case – in which the young man in question was in fact chanting “Ooh Aah Samaras”  and not “Ooh Aah Up The Ra” as the police officers had claimed – was, quite rightly, laughed out of court, but not before it had cost a considerable amount of money to the public purse and much personal anguish to the accused youth.

According to the Herald report on the case, Advocate and human rights expert Niall McCluskey said the scope of the Offensive Behaviour at Football legislation was so wide that it could lead to over-zealous policing.

 “At the end of the day you’ve got to cut a bit of slack with what people can do in that environment. The idea that police officers themselves are the offended party is just crazy.”

Stuart Waiton of Abertay University commenting on the recent public exposure of the FoCUS officer Tommy McCrindle in an article for Spiked stated:

“…it might also point to the hatred and prejudices that exist among the Scottish elites towards football fans in general, and fans of Old Firm rivals, Rangers and Celtic, in particular. The more these fans are discussed in the corridors of power as a problem for society, as Scotland’s ‘shame’, as ‘peddlers of sectarian hate’ or as ‘bigots who have no place in Scottish society’, the more the police are given the green light to talk about and treat them like pests or vermin that need to be stamped out.”

* TAL Fanzine would like to thank the Celtic fans who have supplied the information. It’s a team effort. Keep the info coming please folks.

TARGET  THOSE  WHO  WOULD  TARGET  YOU

If you have any information on the FoCUS unit please contact: talfanzine@gmail.com

focus-officer-identification

PROTEST AND SURVIVE

To make a complaint against any police officer that you believe to be acting outside of their duties and remit as a public servant please contact the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police at:

Strathclyde Police Headquarters
173 Pitt Street
Glasgow
G2 4JS
Telephone: (UK) 0141 532 2000

Please ensure that your complaints are formal and non-abusive.

It would also be advisable to copy complaints to Fans Against Criminalisation and Celtic FC

Email: fansagainstcriminalisation@gmail.com
Email: operations@celticfc.co.uk

Strathclyde Police are also accountable to the Scottish Government.

The First Minister can be contacted at:

Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

On Twitter: @AlexSalmond

Rebel Fantasist makes ‘conspiracy theories’ allegation against Celtic supporters

Lawwell&White

The latest blog from the Rebel Fantasist Phil MacGiollabhain comes as no surprise to TAL. It was, in its sycophantic support of club policy with regard to the Green Brigade, utterly predictable.

That this man still attempts to portray himself as a republican and a ‘rebel’ is laughable. The only link to the politics of republicanism that Phil MacWhatEverHisNameIs has left are the fleeting references to the derring-do of his long lost relatives that he continues to bore the T’imternet with. He has to regale us with these stories because it is his last tenuous connection with a political tradition that he abandoned long ago.

It strikes me as very curious that a man who claims his profession to be ‘journalism’, and who attended last Saturday’s match, took 4 days to compose his thoughts and make any comment on the situation with regard to the the Green Brigade and their mistreatment at the hands of the police and club stewards. Even more curious when the man in question turns out to be none other than the ‘rebel fantasist’ Phil MacGiollabhain, a man not known for holding back when there’s a good yarn to tell.

Predictably his blog is toeing the party line and he describes as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ anyone who dares to criticise the club or implies the involvement of the club in the harassment of the Green Brigade. That’s a bit rich coming from someone who has spent the last 25 years spreading lies and conspiracy theories against political activists in Scotland and Ireland.

It really is the mother of all ironies for MacMadeUpName to express concern about the ‘grip on reality’ of other Celtic supporters! People in glass houses and all that Philip…

He goes on to defend the club statement and the connivance of the Affiliation of Registered CSC’s with the club’s anti-Green Brigade agenda. It’s clear that the ego is now in overdrive post-publication of Downfall. He can’t help himself when he refers to ‘my club sources’ which is confirmation that he is a willing unofficial mouthpiece for the PLC.

It may have been pure coincidence that Phil held off from publishing anything on his blog regarding Saturday’s events until after the Sun published the news that police officer Tommy McCrindle’s work around the Green Brigade and Celtic fans in general had been suspended pending an internal investigation. Then again, it may not have been quite as coincidental as it appears.

Phil has been known to trawl the T’imternet in search of stories that he can pass on as ‘exclusives’ to his friends in the Murdoch press. I don’t know if an NUJ member gets a ‘finders fee’ for passing on such tip-offs as his very own ‘exclusives’, but it would not be like Phil to supply free of charge the info that he gleans from the work of others.

We know of at least four other occasions when stories that have come directly from MacGiollabhain have appeared in the Scottish editions of Murdoch’s newspapers under another pen name.

Conspiracy theories? Next thing we know Phil will be accusing Celtic supporters of ‘paranoia’ too. Maybe he’s been ploughing that rangers furrow for too long and it’s starting to rub off? One sure thing remains, what Phil does is for the benefit of Phil alone. There is no altruism involved, no collective responsibility, no politics. It is nothing more than self-aggrandisement on the back of the Celtic support.

The truth is catching up with you Philip and, sooner rather than later, it’s going to trip you up…

HomeBhoys Extra – Inside the Green Brigade

A curious little story came our way today via ‘a very reliable source’ to use the terminology of MacHospitalCase.  On Tuesday night, after the Home Bhoys podcast with two Green Brigade members, which discussed recent events with some of the HomeBhoys’ regulars, a certain Ms Angela Haggerty, Phil’s editor and proxy, contacted the Homebhoys, who in turn contacted a good friend of both TAL and the GB.

Haggerty claimed that Scottish Television (STV) wanted to do a piece on the Green Brigade and asked for an email contact. Our mutual friend handed over her email address to his mate in GB, who in turn emailed Haggerty telling her in no uncertain terms what she and STV could do with their interview.

What a cheek, but further evidence that MacBoughtAndPaidFor and his proxies are acting as  go-between ‘journalists’ for the mainstream press in their pursuit of the Green Brigade.

Tommy McCrindle, Pest Controller – GOTCHA!

Celtic-cop-Sun

 

Just 24 hours after the T’imternet went into meltdown with the revelations about police officer Tommy McCrindle’s facebook page, The Sun (sorry folks, it wisnae us that gave them the story) has revealed that Officer McCrindle is now the subject of an internal investigation and has been removed from duties at Celtic.

Well done to those Celtic fans who followed TAL’s advice and made official complaints to the police and the club with regard to the disgraceful attitudes of this so-called policeman, who appears to take perverse pleasure from his job, which involves the harassment and intimidation of our younger supporters.

Whilst this is a victory for Celtic supporters, it may only be a temporary one. We should not rest on our laurels. It is highly likely that McCrindle’s removal only involves him being restricted to ‘desk duties’ during the internal investigation, but he may still be pulling the strings from behind the scenes. The investigation – and Celtic’s ridiculous attempt to claim credit for initiating the complaints and disciplinary procedures against McCrindle – smells like a cosmetic exercise aimed at taking the heat off both Strathclyde Police and Celtic PLC’s security chief Ronnie Hawthorn, widely believed to be the person co-ordinating the collusion between club security and the police.

More information and evidence is pouring into TAL about this police FoCus Unit, its personnel and their questionable behaviour on and off duty.

Watch this space…

In the meantime, continue to apply pressure on the police, the club and the Scottish government by reiterating your complaints. Demand to know the outcome of the investigation into McCrindle. The bottom line is that not only should this man never be allowed near Celtic supporters again, he should be kicked off the FoCus group and his job should be under review for the disgusting attitudes that he so publicly displays. Further, the F0Cus group should be removed from all duties in regard to the Green Brigade, a non-violent group of football supporters.

The club itself would do well to appoint liaison officers from its own security team that will treat the GB with respect and seek to solve problems through dialogue rather than confrontation.  The Green Brigade are Celtic supporters who love the team and the club, they should be embraced not shunned.

Make Your Complaints To:

Strathclyde Police Headquarters
173 Pitt Street
Glasgow
G2 4JS
Telephone: (UK) 0141 532 2000

Please ensure that your complaints are formal and non-abusive.

It would also be advisable to copy complaints to Fans Against Criminalisation and Celtic FC

Email: fansagainstcriminalisation@gmail.com
Email: operations@celticfc.co.uk

Strathclyde Police are also accountable to the Scottish Government.

The First Minister can be contacted at:

Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

On Twitter: @AlexSalmond

Pontious Pilate issues statement on behalf of Celtic FC

pilate film

We reproduce below the full statement issued today by Celtic FC in relation to the alleged harassment of the Green Brigade by the police and members of Celtic’s own security staff last Saturday.

Please also watch the video of the statement made by Neil Lennon to STV News.

We believe that there are still a number of questions that require answers from the club.

* If the club wasn’t involved why were people’s season books refused?

* If the club wasn’t involved why were Celtic employees and stewards refusing entry?

* If the club wasn’t involved why did the Celtic staff tell people to go to the ticket office/security office to discuss the issue?

* If the club wasn’t involved why did the stewards make clear they made the decisions?

* If the club wasn’t involved why did the stewards have a list of people they were looking for?

* What was the role of senior Celtic security personnel such as Ronnie Hawthorn in liaising with the police and approving this operation?

Celtic Football Club Statement

By: Newsroom Staff on 18 Feb, 2013 17:00

OVER the course of the weekend, the Club has been made aware of further reports and allegations concerning the ill-treatment of supporters by police at Celtic Park.

Celtic Football Club will not tolerate any unjust or inappropriate treatment of our supporters. The health, safety and well-being of our supporters is of paramount importance.

It is important that we deal in facts:

We have continually asked our supporters to report any incidents of ill-treatment or harassment directly to the Club and our absolute commitment has been that each incident or complaint will be investigated.

In addition, in December last year, it was agreed with our supporters’ groups that any such complaints could also be made through the Fans Against Criminalisation Group (The Celtic Supporters´ Association, The Green Brigade, The Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters´ Clubs, the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters´ Clubs and The Celtic Trust). Click HERE for more details.

Since December last year, we have received two complaints directly to the Club, both of which have been addressed.

As a reminder, should any supporter wish to make any complaint in relation to any form of ill-treatment or harassment, then they can do so by using the FAC link/email or contact the Club directly.

Email: fansagainstcriminalisation@gmail.com
Email: operations@celticfc.co.uk

Furthermore, Celtic has now proposed that, together with its supporters´ groups, we establish a Complaints Panel consisting of supporter and Club representatives. This group will administer any complaints and will provide feedback to supporters.

Accusations suggesting that the Club is in some way involved in targeting supporters are ludicrous. These accusations have absolutely no foundation whatsoever and, of course, are very disappointing.

We have enjoyed an exciting season so far and the Club is in fantastic shape on and off the field. Our supporters have, of course, played a huge role in this. What would be the Club’s motivation for being involved in activity which targets or victimises supporters? It is simply not true. It does not make sense.

Celtic has worked very hard over many years to ensure a positive relationship with its many supporters´ groups. We are delighted that we work together so regularly in the best interests of Celtic.

The health and safety of our supporters is our absolute priority and clearly the Club takes its responsibility in this area extremely seriously. In this regard, however, there is also a need for all supporters to ensure the highest standards of behaviour in order to create a safe environment at Celtic Park and other stadia in which to watch and enjoy football.

We are pleased to outline the Club’s position on this matter and are delighted to work with our supporters to ensure that any needs or concerns are addressed.

Officer Tommy McCrindle – ‘Fume-a-Pest & Termite Control’

McCrindle

 

This is the now removed facebook page of a Strathclyde police officer called Tommy McCrindle. Officer McCrindle is part of the FoCus Unit (Football Co-ordination Unit for Scotland) assigned to harass and intimidate members of the Celtic Ultras group, the Green Brigade.

Any Celtic fans who were in doubt with regard to what the Green Brigade have been saying about their harassment at the hands of Strathclyde Police – and, incredibly as it may seem, there are some among us who have deliberately spread misinformation about the group since their mistreatment by the police last Saturday – must surely now question the type of police officers and human beings that this ‘intelligence unit’ employs.

To make a complaint about a police officer who uses social media sites to describe his work to disrupt the activities of a non-violent group of football fans as ‘Fume-a-Pest & Termite Control’  please contact the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police at:

Strathclyde Police Headquarters
173 Pitt Street
Glasgow
G2 4JS
Telephone: (UK) 0141 532 2000

Please ensure that your complaints are formal and non-abusive.

It would also be advisable to copy complaints to Fans Against Criminalisation and Celtic FC

Email: fansagainstcriminalisation@gmail.com
Email: operations@celticfc.co.uk

Strathclyde Police are also accountable to the Scottish Government.

The First Minister can be contacted at:

Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

On Twitter: @AlexSalmond