Scotland fans travelling to London for Euro 2020 have caused a Tartan Army spike in coronavirus cases north of the border which simultaneously sees Rangers fans let down by government coverage.
The Ibrox support was collectively lambasted in the aftermath of Trophy Day in George Square back in May as thousands gathered to celebrate the club’s first title in a decade.
The celebrations were marred by unacceptable scenes at the end of the day as a minority of supporters clashed with police.
However, many feel the situation was taken advantage of by Holyrood and the entire support unfairly tarnished with the same broad brush.
Not only that, but Rangers fans were branded “disgraceful” by the likes of first minister Nicola Sturgeon whilst traditionally dissenting voices in the press had a field day.
That’s despite the fact Rangers fan celebrations went on to cause no spike in Covid-19 cases or that the government and council ignored repeated warnings regarding the gatherings, failing to properly facilitate them.
Now, the Scottish Government has come under fire for its approach to the Tartan Army who crammed into planes, trains and automobiles to get down to England for the Euro 2020 clash.
Scotland would draw 0-0 with England but a new report from the BBC claims that around two-thirds of 1991 new cases linked to Euro 2020 originate from the travelling party to Wembley.
This has contributed to the nation now recording record high numbers of Covid-19 cases [BBC].
The Government has shied away from using the same language to describe Scotland fans as they did Rangers supporters, whilst Nicola Sturgeon referred to damage and anti-social/sectarian behaviour during the Rangers celebrations [Glasgow Times].
Again, this is a tame and weak response and not fairly representative of the reality of both situations.
There have been numerous video clips of sectarian language being used in London amongst Scotland fans whilst the Tartan Army were issued with a dispersal order due to “anti-social” behaviour in London [Evening Standard].
There was also extensive coverage of anti-English chanting which Sturgeon claimed she was not aware of, even if she did condemn them [Scottish Sun].
This isn’t to say we want the Tartan Army exposed to the same kind of unfair coverage Rangers fans were – most knew the risks and travelled to enjoy themselves – but we just want coverage to be balanced.
Alcohol fuelled football hooliganism is a Scottish societal problem and not something which should be irresponsibly used as a political tool against one group in particular.
No one wants to see violence, no one wants to see unacceptable bigotry, no one wants to see Covid-19 spikes in the country.
But when one group’s behaviour is exaggerated and another’s played down, the motives behind the behaviour and approach of the government undoubtedly come into question.
Public health appears to have largely come second to an opportunity to over-politicise football for the government’s own gains in both situations.
Rangers fans have been badly let down by opportunistic politicians who are now seeing their aggressive campaign against the Ibrox club come back to bite them with the Tartan Army.
It’s just a shame that some of them – despite their promises – don’t have the backbone to stay true to their word and apologise for their attacks on the club.