BBC Scotland have responded to complaints regarding pundit Michael Stewart over yet another racism row involving Rangers.
Stewart – who regularly takes the opposite stance on matters Rangers – drew the ire of the Ibrox club’s support when he cast doubts over an incident at Ibrox where midfielder Glen Kamara was racially abused by Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela.
Now, responding to over 1000 complaints regarding the comments [Glasgow Times], BBC Scotland have opted to back up the outspoken Sportscene pundit.
One of the complainants took to popular Rangers forum Follow Follow to share an email from BBC Scotland regarding their complaint.
Here is the copy and pasted email in full courtesy of Follow Follow user Changingman:
Thank you for contacting us about BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound on 19 March.
We received complaints regarding contributor Michael Stewart’s comments about allegations of racial abuse during the Rangers v Slavia Prague Europa League match. To allow us to reply promptly and use the licence fee efficiently, we’re sending this response to everyone on behalf of the Editor, BBC Sport Scotland. We’re sorry we can’t reply individually, but we hope this will address the concerns raised.
Across our Sportsound programmes on Friday and Saturday (19 & 20 March) we involved a number of guests who’ve taken the position that, given the actions of the Slavia Prague player and the reaction of the Rangers players, the allegation of racial abuse is well-founded.
On Saturday, through Chris Iwelumo and Derek Ferguson (both Show Racism the Red card ambassadors) and Pat Bonner (who attended the match as a UEFA observer), we offered our audience a first-hand account of what could be seen inside the stadium, the views of those who have been subject to racist abuse in football and someone trying to eradicate it. On Friday we also spoke to Livingston captain Marvin Bartley, who again called out racist action within football and on social media platforms.
Regarding Michael Stewart’s contribution on the Friday night broadcast, Michael did not make any comments which could be described as racist or said to be condoning racism – it’s also worth noting, for context, that the programme was broadcast before Rangers’ Glen Kamara issued his own statement.
In making the point that UEFA have to reach their conclusion and that we should allow them to do so, Michael Stewart said:
“It definitely looks suspicious and your instinct is to say he’s racially abused Glen Kamara…I’m 99%, I’m 99% with you guys on this but that 1% for me is what draws me back from judging and confirming 100%.”
Talking about punishment, Michael added:
“…then the lip service and the token gestures, they don’t suffice, they really don’t and I think it gets to the stage where if a serious penalty is handed down like, for example, being suspended from European competition next season…”
On Saturday’s Sportsound programme, Michael Stewart was again involved in the discussion and said:
“It’s the right thing to do to try to put pressure on to UEFA to continue to do that so that it doesn’t just drift away. There needs to be a thorough investigation and if it’s found out to be exactly as Glen Kamara is saying it is and, to be honest, the statement he’s released there with (Bongani) Zungu – I think it was Chris mentioning there – as a corroborator, witness, then I think like everyone else in the country it’s very difficult to think anything other than what Glen Kamara is saying there is what’s going on and Slavia’s attempts to try to almost just deflect away from it, it’s not great, but you’ve got to allow this process to take place with UEFA so that justice is done for the victims here, Glen Kamara in particular, and then the punishment needs to be comparable with what’s going on with the big overall issue of racism and for me, and I said this last night, the players should be getting suspended – I’m not 100% sure about lifetime bans but at least you’re talking about a year ban where the player has time to genuinely think about his actions and re-assess and rehabilitate himself and the club should be getting banned from European competition.”
In conclusion, we are confident that our overall output on this subject has been fair, accurate and balanced, and our production teams across all of our platforms have taken great care to ensure we have appropriate guests.
We hope this is helpful, and thank you again for getting in touch.
BBC Complaints Team
The issues centre around these comments made by BBC Scotland pundit Stewart regarding the incident, mumblings which have drawn criticism from across UK football.
“Without trying to back away from the issues, I’m slightly uncomfortable with going full steam ahead when we don’t know definitively what’s happened,” said Stewart [Scottish Football Podcast 19/03/21]
“UEFA have to have an investigation, we’re proceeding on the assumption that there was a racial incident.
“I know it’s allegations, but we assume that this has happened last night.
“Earlier the season there was an incident up at Victoria Park, and they were being hung, drawn and quartered before we actually knew what was going on.
“It’s a serious point in that we have to allow the process to carry itself out before we reach the conclusion.”
In the comments, Stewart suggested that the UEFA investigation would determine if Kamara was racially abused, something which stoked the fire of the Rangers support.
The incident garnered so much attention that Ibrox shareholders Club 1872 demanded the BBC take action regarding the former midfielder, who is given a platform by the national broadcaster.
This was the second incident of such a nature in Stewart’s punditry career, the outspoken pundit previously being suspended for suggesting that allegations of racism levelled towards Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos during an Old Firm derby last season had been fabricated [Glasgow Times].
Stewart’s Kamara comments also drew extensive criticism from the likes of Rio and Anton Ferdinand spawning a nauseating column from Stewart positioning himself as the victim of a witch hunt [Medium].
Whatever the BBC’s stance – and surprise, surprise it’s the opposite of Rangers’ – Stewart is no longer welcome at Ibrox and had his press privileges revoked for the visit of Cove Rangers.