SNP government defeated on football sectarianism act debate

Written by Tom Freeman on 3 November 2016 in News

Opposition parties unite to inflict defeat on the SNP over its Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.

The Scottish Government has been urged to repeal its controversial football behaviour law.

In a Scottish Parliament debate last night opposition parties defeated the SNP administration, calling for the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act to be scrapped.

The 2012 law was designed to combat sectarianism at football games, particularly at matches involving Rangers and Celtic, but has been criticised for being poorly written and ineffective.


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Sixty-four MSPs backed the Conservative motion to repeal the act “as a matter of urgency”, while 63 voted against.

Tory MSP Douglas Ross, an SFA referee, said: “The 2012 act does not need a substitution—it needs a full-time whistle blown on it.”

Scottish Labour’s James Kelly said the act was “dead in the water”, while Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie tweeted: “The flawed Offensive Behaviour Act has done nothing to solve sectarianism; the repeal process will allow development of coherent policy.”

The Scottish Government rejected what it called attempts to disassociate football with sectarianism.

Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing said: “It is not sensible to look at sectarianism without also considering what happens in 90 minutes on a Saturday in Scotland.”

The vote to repeal, she said, "threatens to set us back as a country in our efforts to effectively combat prejudice, hate crime and sectarianism".

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