Celtic boss Neil Lennon says that the abuse of footballers has “got to stop”.
Lennon was talking almost a fortnight after Hoops captain Scott Brown was subjected to some vile abuse outside Ibrox following the death of his sister in 2008.
Brown dealt impeccably with the incident and was also backed by Celtic and Rangers, who sent him a swift apology. Lennon thanked the Ibrox club for their efforts, but said that the abuse of players has gone too far.
“I applaud Rangers for the swift action they took and the support a lot of their fans have given to Scott – but it’s got to stop,” Lennon told the Daily Record.
“There’s no call for that. And we’re talking not only here in Britain now but there seems to be an uprising in a lot of racism.
“It’s rearing its ugly head. We have a sectarian problem here (in Scotland), we know that.
“95 per cent of supporters are really good and like Scott said yesterday, he doesn’t mind during the game.
“But when we’re out in the streets trying to live our lives not at a football ground, they have no right to insult or abuse people in that manner in any capacity, never mind in a football capacity.”
Lennon is right – the abuse can’t be tolerated
It’s difficult to judge whether the abuse of professionals has worsened in recent years. Last season certainly saw an epidemic of vitriol directed at players, officials, managers and other fans.
Lennon was involved in an incident, not for the first time, at Tynecastle when a coin was thrown at him by a Hearts fan. Those physical assaults can hurt, but often not as much as verbal abuse like the stuff Brown suffered.
Thankfully, Scottish football as a whole backed Brown against the idiot who has since been arrested. Conduct like that simply can never be tolerated. If it ever gets to the stage when that is the norm then our game has gone to a dark place.