October 5 2017

Sports Minister Aileen Campbell MSP came along to support ‘Football People’ campaign

Efforts to introduce European style ‘Strict Liability’ sanctions into Scottish football to tackle offensive behaviour in the stands will be stepped up today as campaigners meet MSPS at Holyrood.

Nil by Mouth have today visited the Scottish Parliament to brief MSPs on how the system would work in Scotland and call on all parties to support efforts from James Dornan MSP which would see ‘Strict Liability’ at games passed into law.

‘Strict Liability’ is the UEFA standard for tackling offensive behaviour at games and sanctions include fines, closure of section of grounds, playing matches behind closed doors and docking of league points. A number of Scottish clubs have been sanctioned under the scheme in European matches in recent years. In 2014, the English FA successfully introduced the measures whilst the proposals were rejected by Scottish clubs in 2013.  However, a 2015 Report for the Scottish Government highlighted a lack of leadership in the game when it came to tackling sectarianism and recommended that the sport adopt the UEFA model.

Earlier this year James Dornan MSP proposed a law that would see ‘Strict Liability’ introduced to the game by Holyrood which now requires the support of 18 MSPs from at least three parties to proceed.  Today’s event will see campaigners call on all 128 MSPs to back the move to bring the Scottish game into line with European sporting standards as well as sharing research into fans’ attitudes to the proposals.

The Holyrood event also kicks off Nil by Mouth’s ‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ tour of clubs schools and communities aimed at encouraging action against sectarianism in the Scottish game.  The Tour is being supported by European Footballs’ equality group the FARE Network as part of its European wide ‘Football People’ campaign which runs between 5th – 19th October and will see more than 100,000 people take part in activity tackling prejudice in football across the continent.

The Event was sponsored by James Dornan MSP

Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said:
‘We’ve been campaigning for UEFA’s ‘strict liability’ principles to be introduced into Scottish football since 2013 when the clubs tried to brush the idea under the carpet at an SFA AGM. Since then we have witnessed numerous instances of violent, sectarian and racist behaviour at matches and the Scottish Government’s own Advisory Group publish recommendations calling for the game to sign up to Strict Liability. Added to the tens of millions of pounds of public money Scottish football benefits from each year this is clearly too important an issue to be left to clubs and governing bodies with neither the backbone or appetite to act.

That is why we fully support James Dornan’s efforts to introduce Strict Liability into law and why we, with support from the FARE Network, are meeting MSPs to build cross party support for these proposals. UEFA have been operating ’Strict Liability’ successfully for years and it provides exactly the kind of decisive, independent and transparent system for dealing with sectarian and racist behaviour which the Scottish game has been crying out for. This is a real chance to ensure that clubs and governing bodies are made to take full responsibility for managing their own environment and bring the game into the 21st Century.’

James Dornan MSP said:
‘The vast majority of supporters only want to go to the games to see the match and not have to listen to some of the nonsense they often have to put up with. I am delighted that the FARE Network are helping to make this event a reality today. I look forward to working with supporters of all clubs to ensure that any legislation that may eventually come about will be of the highest standard.’