MSP calls for football act re­view

Kelly urges changes

Rutherglen Reformer - - Newton Gala Day - Dou­glas Dickie

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.”

What’s your thoughts on the Bill? Let us know by email­ing news@ruther­glen­re­former. co.uk or com­ment­ing on our Face­book or Twit­ter pages.

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