GLASGOW: Scottish clubs have voted against implementing stricter regulations to combat racism and sectarianism.
Among the deterrents considered at the Scottish Football Association’s general meeting were longer player suspensions, points deductions and stadium bans. But members decided against the introduction of automatic sanctions.
SFA president Campbell Ogilvie said the result was “disappointing”, adding that there will be “consultation on a more robust set of disciplinary measures”.
The decision apparently flies in the face of the high-profile strategy adopted by both FIFA and UEFA to step up disciplinary action against racism and all forms of discriminatiopn.
An SFA statement explained that the “majority of members voted against proposals to introduce strict liability to combat unacceptable conduct in Scottish football.”
The statement added: “None the less, the members did agree in principle to continued engagement on the topic and to devise an action plan to establish a viable deterrent to such behaviour.”
Under current regulations, clubs are able to avoid sanctions by arguing that they had taken “reasonably practicable” steps to avoid unacceptable behaviour from fans.
SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: “As far as the specific wording and the resolution is concerned, the clubs felt that it was drafted in such a way as to be too onerous; to move to strict liability from where we are now was quite a leap.
“What the clubs have asked us to do is to look at setting up a working party to establish whether there’s a viable deterrent for unacceptable behaviour that exists somewhere between our current rules and strict liability.”
But Regan made it clear he thinks the present system is flawed, adding: “The current rules are written in such a way that we haven’t been successful in bringing any prosecutions forward. There has to be some sort of middle ground that moves us forward.”
Responding to the vote on new measures to tackle unacceptable behaviour, David Scott, campaign director for anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth, told BBC Scotland: “Football was asked to stand up and be counted, and was found wanting. It certainly sends out he wrong sort of message, not just inScotlandbut around European football.
“I know that the SFA are very keen for Glasgow to be one of the host cities for the 2020 European Championships and I’m not quite sure today’s message really says to people, ‘we’re open for business’.”
** Scottish Football League clubs have voted in favour of a merger with the Scottish Premier League.