MSP calls for football act review
Kelly urges changes
James Kelly MSP has called for a review into the controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communicat i o n s (Scotland) Act.
The Labour member for Rutherglen claims the bill has “created a culture of mistrust” between football fans and the authorities.
Since being passed in 2012, the Act has come under fire, with one judge labelling it “mince”.
Critics say it criminalises football fans and argue existing laws were ample for dealing with issues at games.
Some even say it limits free speech .
Bu t the Scottish Government say it is having a desired impact, with the number of people charged down in the past year.
The Act was prompted by a controversial Old firm game in March 2011.
Mr Kelly, Shadow Justice Minister, opposed the Bill when it was first brought in, and accused the Government of backing away from a review.
He said: “The Football Act has been a huge source of controversy, criticised not just by football fans but by legal experts too.
“It has created a culture of mistrust between football fans and the authorities which does nothing to help Scotland have an honest debate about how we tackle, and beat, sectarianism.
“The reality is that bigotry and intolerance are not confined to 90 minutes on a Saturday at football matches.
“If we want to be the generation that makes sectarianism a thing of the past we must address the issue head on, in our classrooms and communities in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.
“That is why I am calling on the Scottish Government to deliver what they promised – a thorough review of the Football Act.”
However, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We fulfilled our statutory obligation to report to the Scottish Parliament on the first two years of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act on June 12.
“The report was supported by evidence including an extensive, independent evaluation of the offence of offensive behaviour at football carried out by University of Stirling and ScotCen Social Research.
“This Act is helping to rid Scotland of the bile and bigotry that has marred the match day experience at some games for too long. Football supporters and the public are tired of our national sport being used as an outlet for the prejudices of the past and it is time to bring football into line with the social standards of the 21st century.”
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