Scottish footballer writes about his work with the Red Card

Can you imagine what life could have been like if the bricklayers who built Hadrian’s Wall had been any good? Think for a minute if it had fulfilled its purpose, penning the Scots in and freeing us from foreign interference.The Roman Emperor’s plan to “separate the Romans from the Barbarians” could have doomed us all to a modern lifetime of Harris tweed underpants, haggis for breakfast and endless re-runs of the Crankies Christmas Specials.But, almost 2,000 years after it was erected, the crumbled ruins of the famous wall should stand as a reminder to all Scots of just what could have been – and how lucky we are today that it came tumbling down.God/Allah/Buddah/Jah/Yahweh (delete as appropriate) for the cheap cement used by Hadrian’s builders and the positive influence multiculturalism has had on our country ever since it fell.I doubt the moronic element that tarnished the reputation of Airdrie Football Club, and Scottish football in general, with their despicably racist behaviour last weekend at Gretna’s Raydale Park would recognise the benefits of our long-since established relationship with the rest of the world. Then again, I imagine it is extremely difficult to see anything perceptively when viewed from two holes cut in one of your mum’s old flannelette pillowcases. The Airdrie official website described the supporters who greeted the arrival of the black Gretna substitute Matthew Berkeley by slipping Ku Klux Klan-style masks over their heads as “misguided souls”.Soulless would have been a more appropriate description of these senseless cowards. News reports on the match neglected to detail whether the same “misguided souls” had brandished their sickening headgear when Airdrie’s centre forward Brian McPhee, who also happens to be black, scored the second goal in the Lanarkshire club’s first league victory of the season.When I am not methodically planning the expansion of Stranraer’s footballing empire, I am employed as the educational co-ordinator for the anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card.My remit includes the delivery and structuring of our “Coaching with a Conscience” scheme, where well-known faces from the professional game engage primary school children around Scotland in anti-racism discussion sessions in conjunction with a fun, football coaching routine.To assist me in the delivery of these well-received, informative and extremely enjoyable workshops, I have managed to recruit some major names from Scottish football – renowned, articulate role models that the kids can learn from and be inspired by.One is teetotal, non-smoking Jim Duffy, the media pundit who has worked at the highest levels both in domestic football and in the English Premiership. Another is Brian Irvine, the God-fearing former Aberdeen and Scotland stopper, who is an inspiration to many after his successful playing career and his personal battle with multiple sclerosis.A number of high-profile racist incidents on the continent over the past few years forced UEFA to introduce severe sanctions for clubs whose players, officials or supporters indulged in racist behaviour within or in the vicinity of a football stadium. During a recent international between Italy and Croatia in Livorno, a group of around 100 Croatian supporters gave Nazi salutes while standing in formation as a human swastika on the terracing.The imposition of hefty fines, the loss of league points or the possible expulsion from tournaments should be threat enough for football clubs to ensure that their members stay on the correct side of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol.But to ensure that individual clubs and associations are properly vigilant, the penalties must be realistic enough to be applied and not merely well-intentioned soundbites which there is no impetus or determination to enforce. It is essential that examples are made of any individuals that indulge in racist actions. Leniency in this regard will merely lead to more “misguided souls” attempting to register the most offensive and disturbingly racist incident of the week on their sickening, overtly fascist, websites.An honest education and conceivable punishments for behaviour regarded as unacceptable to society are essential requirements if Scotland’s young people are to achieve their optimum positioning in life – and also to ensure that both Scottish football and society have to endure fewer “misguided souls” in the years to come.Gerry Brittan is spokesman for Show Racism the Red CardThere are comments from readers of this article on The Scotsman website

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