It has been a week since Alfredo Morelos made a murderous gesture while leaving the field at Celtic Park. In that time, Newco and their media acolytes have done what they could to mitigate his actions. The SFA have yet to decide what action is appropriate.
The matter is straightforward: throat-slitting gestures by players towards opposition fans are at the serious end of the scale. It falls short of Eric Cantona’s kick at an opposing fan 25 years ago, but not by much. Intimations of serious physical violence towards opposition fans is the type of action that can lead to serious crowd safety issues, as well as violence away from the ground.
Police officers warn players about their behaviour in front of opposition fans prior to games. If a fan was caught on TV making this gesture at a player, he would have been arrested by now and would be facing a lengthy ban from football.
How this issue is dealt with has sporting ramifications. Morelos is Newco’s top scorer and prized asset (not against Celtic). If he is banned for 6 – 10 games it will have an impact on Newco’s title bid, there is no point in any of us pretending otherwise. This is why commentators, who would otherwise be appalled at murderous gestures in our game, have spent a week downplaying the matter. They cannot pretend otherwise.
Similarly, Celtic fans calling for a ban that reflects the severity of the issue, do so knowing the sporting consequences. I believe the SFA’s actions are likely to be decided in the next few days. Whatever they decide – to impose a 10 game, ban or acquiesce to pressure from Newco and issue a rap on the knuckles – will have sporting consequences.
My hope is that fantasy statements on your website are more likely to gain engagement with your own support than the SFA, who like you and me, know fine well that public comments are designed to gain a sporting advantage, not to encourage the acceptance of the throat-slit gesture in our game. But this is the SFA, so nothing would surprise.
We all know he should be banned and that the ban should be significant. He was sent off last month for a gesture to Motherwell fans, which resulted in a single game ban and taught him nothing. His club are prepared to support his behaviour. There is no learning, no acceptance of what is an acceptable way to conduct yourself. These are all reasons why the SFA must act appropriately.
The Road to Milan
In April, a group of cyclists will set off from Celtic Park heading for Milan, where they will arrive 50 years on from our ‘other’ European Cup Final. The route takes in the Southern Uplands, a ferry to the Netherlands, Rotterdam, Brussels, the Champagne region of France, across the Alps and into Milan.
Our own Mouldy67 has organised the event after the incredible success of The Road to Lisbon in 2017. If you are a cyclist and could be interested in taking part in this incredible event, see here for more details.