So John Guidetti has been censured, having been found in breach of
“Disciplinary Rule 73: In that on or around 6th March 2015 you did in the course of a interview given to the Dutch Television Programme FC Rijnmond, make comment of an offensive nature”
Having been invited to tell the audience about the song sung by Celtic fans, Guidetti recited it and agreed that it was “a good song”. The ‘rendition’ was hardly gleeful.
It seems that Guidetti’s fatal errors were to forget
- that the Netherlands is part of Govan, where many Sevco fans would be able to see it and become “concerned”; and
- that the Compliance Officer is an avid-watcher of Dutch Television Programme “FC Rijnmond”, and has it streamed to his office.
How careless can you be Mr Super Swede?!
Celtic expressed their surprise at the charge when it was first announced in late March.
It will be interesting to see if they now offer further comment as the charge, process and outcome raise some substantial issues.
At no point have we been told what was ‘offensive’ about the song he recited. We can only assume that John Guidetti had the exact nature of the offence explained to him otherwise the whole process would seem to breach a basic tenet of natural justice.
And if he did have the exact nature of the offence explained to him, why oh why didn’t the SFA statements on the charge and then Judicial Panel decision set out what it was! This would have been to the benefit of other players and the fans who have a financial and emotional investment in the way our game is governed.
Was it the use of the word ‘Huns’ that was offensive? The Notice of Complaint made no mention of the word, or of the song being sectarian, which is the assertion of some Sevco fans.
Personally, I don’t use the term as I know some fans of the Ibrox club and they don’t like it. So, as a common courtesy I have always avoided using it. Others have covered the ‘Huns’ issue in great detail so I won’t repeat the arguments. However, suffice to say that the term’s sectarian/ offensive status is at least arguable.
Former Compliance Officer and housewives’ favourite Vincent Lunny pointed out to BBC Scotland that “It is, I think, significant that there’s no mention [in the Notice of Complaint] of it being sectarian or otherwise based on religion”
So if we rule out the use of the word ‘Hun’, we are left to conclude that Guidetti was found guilty of being ‘offensive’ in poking fun at the demise of Rangers FC.
Vincent Lunny set out a potential problem with such mocking when he explained to the BBC
“you’ve got professionals who are making fun of other clubs in difficulty. People are losing their jobs within football and it’s simply not appropriate for players to behave in public in that manner. There are different standards between the fans and the players. The players are directly under the jurisdiction of the SFA, the fans are not.”
The problem I have with this view is that it means that the governing body has a right – at whim – to determine what is deemed ‘offensive’ and what isn’t. It also tends to unduly curtail free speech on what has been the single biggest story to hit Scottish sport in a very long time.
One person’s ‘offensive comment’ is another person’s absolutely gleeful joy that karma finally caught up with a club which spent money it didn’t have, and which tested numerous rules to their [*ahem*] limits.
I mean, would choking loudly on jelly and ice cream at the liquidation of Rangers be considered an ‘offensive’ comment?
Let’s think about what actually happened, for a moment…
- Celtic fans sing a song about a player.
- That song pokes fun at the demise of their long(but no-longer)-standing rivals.
- The song uses a word which some fans don’t like, and about which there are debates on its offensiveness.
- The player is asked about a song sung about him by fans.
- The player recites the song back to the interviewer.
It’s not exactly dancing on the grave of Rangers FC and daubing mocking graffiti on the walls of the Blue Room is it?!
Personally I think the charge faced by Guidetti was farcical, and it seems ridiculous that he can be found guilty when we don’t even know what the specifically ‘offensive’ thing he did was!
A censure is the mildest ‘punishment’ available to the Judicial Panel. I am certainly very glad he will not face suspension, and if there is an opportunity to appeal I hope he does so.
Should Guidetti have recited the song on TV? With hindsight it might have been better not to – mainly to avoid the scope for subsequent problems. But at the time he couldn’t possibly have imagine he was engaging in an act of causing ‘offence’.
And as far as this correspondent is concerned he wasn’t doing anything ‘offensive’.
So in summary…. It’s another triumph for Scottish football administration! On we go to the next one! You know it will be coming soon…