UEFA order Rangers to close section of stadium over 'Racist Behaviour'
UEFA have ordered Rangers to close a section of Ibrox Stadium after they ruled that Rangers fans were guilty of ‘racist behaviour’ during a European match against Gibraltar side St.Joseph’s in July.
Europe’s governing body took action after offensive songs were heard during the first round qualifyer in the Europa League.
It means that a section of at least 3000 seats will be closed for the crucial second leg of the Europa League play-off tie against Legia Warsaw next Thursday. A match that is hanging in the balance with the first leg finishing 0-0.
UEFA’s ruling said: “The [UEFA] Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body has decided to order a partial closure of the stadium during the next one (1) UEFA competition match in which Rangers FC play as the host club, for the racist behaviour of its supporters.
“Rangers FC shall, as a matter of urgency, inform UEFA of the sector(s) to be closed, which shall at least comprehend 3,000 seats. The Scottish club is ordered to display a banner with the wording “#EqualGame”, with the UEFA logo on it. The banner shall be displayed in the sector(s) to be closed.”
A statement was published on the club website on Friday afternoon, it read: "Rangers has been ordered by UEFA to close a section of Ibrox Stadium for the return leg of the club's Europa League play-off tie against Legia Warsaw on Thursday, August 29.
"UEFA has ruled that a group of Rangers supporters were guilty of racist behaviour - which includes sectarian singing - during the match against St Joseph's at Ibrox on July 18.
"Our supporters have been asked repeatedly by the club to refrain from indulging in this, and other forms of unacceptable behaviour. Sadly, the warnings have fallen on deaf ears and the actions of this minority will cause the club and the majority of good and decent Rangers supporters to pay a heavy penalty.
"UEFA has ruled that a section, or sections containing no fewer than 3000 seats must be shut off during the club's next European match, which is the home match against Legia Warsaw. The area, or areas to be closed will be announced in due course and the Club will do its best to restrict the impact to offending supporters.
"Unfortunately a significant number of supporters, innocent of any wrong doing, will be unable to attend next week's match. This is deeply regrettable to all at the Club and we hope that the guilty parties, who attracted the attention of UEFA might reflect on the damage their unacceptable behaviour is causing Rangers and their fellow supporters.
"If any individual supporter is unable to behave in a civilised manner then please stay away from Ibrox and our Club. You are harming Rangers and that is something a genuine supporter would never wish to do."
Rangers chairman Dave King added: "Rangers is a club open to all and we will continue to convey this message at every opportunity through our Everyone Anyone initiative.
"Rangers has players and supporters from many religions, cultures and backgrounds but we are one and the same when we gather to support our club. If any supporter cannot accept that then Rangers is not the club for them".
It now looks apparent that Rangers knew that a punishment was forthcoming and tried to head it off at the pass before a disciplinary hearing was held by unveiling their ‘Everyone Anyone’ campaign just FOUR days after the game in question.
But while the Scottish FA and the SPFL are keen to turn a blind eye to their fans’ misconduct at games - UEFA don’t have the stomach for their bile and imposed sanctions.
Rangers 1872 [which was liquidated in 2012] was fined 40,000 euros (£35,652) and fans banned from a European tie against Malmo after sectarian singing in a match against PSV Eindhoven in 2011. Eight years on, the club may be new, but the racist bigots remain the same.
This latest sectarian episode at Ibrox will add to calls for Strict Liability to be imposed on our game by anti-sectarian charities and politicians.