More About FAC

We also entirely reject the notion that laws should be based on something as ridiculously ambiguous as offensiveness. This term is being used in this context as a catch-all to ensure that the police have almost limitless powers when it comes to using this act to criminalise and harass football fans. Equally pertinently, we object to being told when and where our rights to hold and express a political opinion can be applied, and this is an issue which should concern the public at large.
With this in mind, our campaign began with the objective of de-railing the emergency process however some very public blunders by high ranking SNP ministers managed to do that for us and the emergency bill was scrapped, with then-First Minister Alex Salmond claiming he wished to build towards a consensus throughout the process of this bill being passed through parliament and into the statute books. As a group we campaigned vigorously against the bill at this stage, however given that the SNP maintain a parliamentary majority, it was bound to be an uphill struggle, though this did not deter us. Although the bill was voted through Parliament, the SNP had been thoroughly embarrassed due to the fact that every single MSP in opposition voted against the act. Salmond’s consensus was not to be. Over the course of time, criticism of the act continues to build as judges, lawyers, journalists and politicians began to realise that our concerns were entirely justified.
Although initially set up to oppose the passing of the bill, FAC continued with the renewed goals of challenging the Act and helping those who have been criminalised as a result of it. We have continually taken the fight to the SNP and we will not stop until this Act has been abolished. Over the course of the last few years, FAC and its constituent groups have held mass demonstrations, held visual protests during games and offered critiques on the shamelessly skewed statistics offered up by the Scottish Government as well as offered assistance to those whose lives have been torn apart by criminal charges and court cases. FAC have protested at the Scottish Parliament, at Police stations and at the SNP national conference.
In 2013, we ran a local candidate in the Govan Council by-election and ensured that our issue will not be ignored. In November of that year FAC also organised to aid the fans who had fallen victim to the brutality of the Amsterdam police prior to Celtic’s match against Ajax in and we will see this fight out to the end also as the appeals against the utterly disgraceful verdicts handed down by the Dutch judicial system have still to be heard.
In 2014, we released a single in association with the Irish Brigade, the well known ballad ‘Roll of Honour’. This song has fallen foul of the anti-football act and the success of our campaign clearly demonstrated that the Celtic support has no intentions of bowing down to the bully-boy tactics of Stephen House’s henchmen and allowing the right to political expression to be taken away. The song reached number 33 in the UK official singles chart and a clip of it was played live on national radio.
An extremely effective email campaign also successfully brought the Act back into the justice committee as we pushed for an early review in 2014. This was ultimately unsuccessful but the date of the ‘review’ that never was (see story by scrolling down on Campaign News page) has come and gone and still we fight on. The governments’ own commissioned evaluation of the Act failed to support the legislation and they were reduced to publishing selected ‘highlights’ together with the results of their own commissioned and highly skewed poll of people who have no clue what the Act is actually about. The Minister also made false claims that FAC supported their diversion from prosecution scheme which seeks to waste more public money on training courses for young football fans to show them the error of their ways (a sort of National 5 in middle-class politeness and how to keep your views to yourself). However, the fact that this scheme was introduced is an admission by the SNP Government that they are vulnerable to our charge that they are criminalising young people who would otherwise be nowhere near the justice system.
The Scottish Government has, through this Act, politically directed the Police and Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service in a way not seen before and which is corrosive of the justice system. One crucial example of this is that on three occasions over the last few years the Crown Office has appealed a verdict or sentence in an Offensive Behaviour Case. The significance of this can only be understood when you know that the Crown Office only appeals around one case a year and usually only serious cases like rape or murder.
FAC currently has a series of plans including a petition to the Scottish Parliament and a series of legal challenges to important cases as well as protests at selected grounds. We have made numerous successful complaints against individual police officers and their behaviour towards football supporters as they continue to oppose this Act. The current shambolic state of the Police Service of Scotland offers us an opportunity to further highlight the lunacy of diverting resources away from real crime and towards targeting law-abiding football fans for songs and chants which some may not like, but which should not be criminalised.
We call on all football fans to join us in fighting this oppressive, unnecessary and illiberal Act and to put aside traditional football rivalries to unite against this legislation which affects us all and which is seriously damaging Scottish football. To those who are not football fans we say this, if you don’t care about our rights, remember that your money is being used to pay for this and your policing concerns are being underfunded while resources are diverted to stop people singing and chanting at a football match….and remember this also, if they can do it to us, they can do it to you on some other pretext when it suits them.