Football fans' views on sectarianism

Views and ideas from ordinary football fans on how to tackle sectarianism are set out in a new report published today by an expert in the sociology of football from Glasgow University.

The Scottish Executive commissioned Bert Moorhouse, Director of the Research Unit in Football Studies at Glasgow University to gather views from supporters' groups on what they see as the practical problems for the average fan and invited them to suggest how sectarian attitudes could be addressed.

The fan consultation took place between April and July this summer and its findings will be fed into the strategy being drawn up by the Scottish Executive's Sectarianism in Football Working Group.

Mr Moorhouse's recommendations include:

ᄋ The Scottish Executive provides and publicises a clear statement to fans and all clubs about its anti-sectarian initiatives

ᄋ Celtic and Rangers merge their current anti-sectarian initiatives into a single and joint campaign

ᄋ The Scottish Football Association, all major clubs and football bodies ensure that all footballers are offered anti-sectarian training

ᄋ The Scottish Executive learn from best practice in other parts of the UK and overseas

Mr Moorhouse said: "This is the first consultation of its kind in football, certainly in the UK, and I hope that the findings will have a positive impact on future policy making. The research showed that one of the biggest issues we need to overcome is how we actually define sectarianism. Policy makers must be clear about what exactly they are trying to eradicate."

Sports Minister Patricia Ferguson said: 'The vast majority of fans attend matches for the love of football and a desire to support their team. However, there are those that continue to use football as a platform to articulate unacceptable expressions of sectarian hatred. I believe we have seen very significant progress over the past two years in tackling this long-standing problem. That's been widely welcomed but there is clearly more to be done. I am pleased that fans from our football clubs have aired their views, which will inform the Executive's drive to combat sectarianism in football.'

The members of the Sectarianism in Football Working Party are:

ᄋ David Taylor SFA

ᄋ Derek Kirkwood SFA

ᄋ Lawrie Randak - sportscotland

ᄋ Jill Bennet - sportscotland

ᄋ John Gilmour - Scottish Executive

ᄋ Karen Holmes - Scottish Executive

Further details of the report are available here.

Martin Shannon (

First published: 16 November 2006