Scottish Soccer Fans Jeer Pope
Via the Drudge Report comes this Associated Press dispatch:
Fans at a Scottish Cup soccer game jeered during a minute’s silence for Pope John Paul II on Sunday, forcing the tribute to be cut short.
The booing by Hearts fans came before the semifinal against Celtic, which has mostly Catholic fans. Referee Stuart Dougal ended the memorial less than halfway through because of the noise. The game was televised in Britain and overseas.
Hearts chief executive Phil Anderton criticized the fans’ conduct and apologized to Celtic and the Scottish Football Association.
“It is disturbing that some Hearts fans failed to see the significance of this occasion,” he said. “There is no room for that sort of behavior in the game.”
Reprehensible, though hardly unsurprising to those of us who’ve followed the Protestant-Catholic animosity undergirding these soccer rivalries. We can only be thankful that Celtic wasn’t playing archrival Rangers. Franklin Foer provided the relevant background in an August 2004 interview with Mother Jones:
One of the striking things about that ugly rivalry, between the Protestant club and the Catholic club, is that it takes place in Scotland, which, to an American, looks like the ultimate global city — it’s advanced, it’s capitalist, it’s Western. But sectarian hatred still exists all over the place and it continues to be expressed in a very crude way. It’s really unsettling to stand in a stadium with 7,000 Catholics and [to hear] 40,000 Protestants singing about being up to their knees in Fenian blood.
For additional information, see How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization.