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One For The Bhoys | Sport

Celtic fans tarred after Scottish media go Dutch

The Dutch police’s version of events jars with Celtic fans’ previous good behaviour at European away games

THE way the Scottish media reported the violent events that occurred in Amsterdam before and after Celtic’s game with Ajax in the Champions League has left me wondering what an independent Scotland will be like.

The media seemed too ready to swallow what Dutch police were feeding them.

Had it been the Tartan Army discriminated against in this way would press reportage have been different? You can only wonder.

More Sport:

The Scottish Express ran with ‘Celtic fans fined and charged after battling Dutch police’.

The report went on to suggest that police had claimed: “Celtic fans armed with bottles and sticks attacked plain-clothed officers in an incident described as ‘coming out of nowhere.’”

The BBC’s Reporting Scotland didn’t fare much better, as fan interviews seemed heavily edited.

Reports and news stories continued to give too much sway to the words of Amsterdam’s police.

Rob Van Der Veen, their spokesman, said: “Ajax fans stole a flag from Scottish fans who then retaliated by throwing bottles. When our plain-clothed officers went in to make arrests they were ambushed.”

The story doesn’t ring true. Provocation of Celtic fans began long before the suggestion that it all began over a stolen flag.

For many the reports lacked a full explanation of events; the story wasn’t in context. Celtic fans on forums and Twitter offered another version.

[youtube id=”E2k7MeYiK44″ width=”620″ height=”360″]

Videos were posted online featuring a hooded swarm of Dutch fans carrying pickaxe handles attacking the Old Sailor cafe the day before — estimates suggest up to 100 fans descended outside the venue where around 50 Celtic fans were drinking.

Some supporters even suggested guns were involved. Aston Villa manager and former Celtic player Paul Lambert was quick to defend supporters, saying: “I played for many years at Celtic and I never encountered any bother.

“I played in the UEFA Cup final and we took over maybe 80-90,000 to Seville and there was not one arrest while we were there.

“Knowing the club and the fans the way I do, I find it incredible. I’m not sure they would have started anything.”

Undoubtedly part of the problem lies with the Dutch police, whose plain-clothed officers went in to arrest Celtic supporters.

To the Hoops fans, the Dutch police looked no different from Amsterdam hooligans and casuals.

Some Celtic fans waded in to protect and assist their fellow supporters who looked under attack. I’m not condoning violence, but it’s natural human behavior to protect your tribe when under threat.

Common sense seems to have been absent from the poorly organised Dutch police. If arrests had to be made, then perhaps the plain-clothed police officers should have been accompanied by officers in uniform to make it clear what was going on.

Dutch police arrested 44 people prior to Celtic’s game against Ajax in Amsterdam

Brian McAuley, 40, of Carluke Shamrock Celtic Supporters Club said: “If there are troublemakers then that situation should be dealt with on its merit and not be an attack on 1,000 people, it was indiscriminate and out of all proportion.

“The police waded in hitting everyone with batons, the crowd was full of young children, pensioners and even a pregnant lady.”

This was another fact that was missing on Reporting Scotland. And there were more.

There was undoubtedly a sectarian element attached to the treatment of Celtic Supporters, and disciplinary proceedings have been opened after a ‘Fenian Bastards’ banner was unveiled by Ajax supporters.

You have to ask the question, how many of the plain-clothed Dutch police felt the same way as the home support?

Some Celtic supporters have suggested the ranks of Dutch hooligans were bolstered by supporters of Dinamo Zagreb, known for their racist and far right affiliations.

Six Celtic supporters were charged were charged with acts of violence against police officers in a public space
Six Celtic supporters were charged were charged with acts of violence against police officers in a public space. Photo sImago/Barcroft Media

They were also in Holland for a game against PSV Einhoven the following night. Twenty-eight out of 44 arrests were Scottish — six of them will be brought to trial for violence against police officers on November 21.

Gus Mooney, 51, of Glasgow, said: “I’ve travelled to various Celtic games in Europe but never witnessed anything like this.

“The opposition fans had an ugly far-right feel about them, it was like going back to the bad old days of the National Front in the 1980s.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere near a game in that part of the world again. I was relieved to get home in one piece.”

Celtic manager Neil Lennon questioned the Ajax support. He said: “I do feel Ajax have a culture and we saw a bit of it at Celtic Park.

“Manchester City and Manchester United have had problems there as well in recent years. I don’t think it’s our issue, I think it’s more their issue.”

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Richard Purden is a freelance contributor to the Irish Post and the author of two books - We Are Celtic Supporters and Faithful Through and Through

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7 comments on “Celtic fans tarred after Scottish media go Dutch”

  1. Tony

    I have been saying the same for days now about how and why the media even now seem desperate to paint the victim as the guilty. I must admit to being perplexed as to the slant on independence.

    Most of the media in this country are unionist to the core and it is not unusual to paint a jaundiced view to suit their unionist narrative.

    Our children deserve a future in a fairer nation. Of course there are issues with acceptable levels of anti-Irishness inherenty within our society and we need to challenge that at every turn. To condemn us to remain within the bankrupt British state, morally and fiscally where the only growth industry is food banks though is absolutely criminal.

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  2. Patrick Flanagan

    I didn't go to Amsterdam as I knew this was coming. Plain clothes cops attacking supporters? How were the fans to know they went right wing hooligans? Especially after the shocking attack on Celtic fans the previous night in the Old Sailor bar (check YouTube). Ajax showed their true colours by tearing up seats in the Glasgow game and unfurling a banner in Amsterdam, "Fenian Bastards". I've travelled to Milan, Barcelona, Villarreal and Lisbon and we were welcomed with open arms. Celtic fans don't tolerate any bad behaviour as they self police themselves. Nobody stands for anyone tarnishing the good name and ethos of the club. This is an utter disgrace and more people need to highlight this bigotry. I'm sure our friends in almost every other football city would validate our impeccable behaviour and warmth. One final point - is it just me but do you think there may be a link between the Masonic Orange Order brethren - the Scottish media and Amsterdam police...

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  3. shaun williamson

    Good artical

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  4. Cieran Michael

    An Irishman is never at peace unless he is fighting. You could say the same of Scots. To drink and urinate all day on the national monument of any country other than your own is an insult. This is what Celtic supporters did for three days. I would say the police were light handed. I was embarrassed as a Celtic supporter. By the way it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol on the streets of Amsterdam. Look at the footage again. Poor reporting.

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    • TC

      Masquerading as a Celtic fan does you no credit, sir (or, 'master').

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