A Uefa document has surfaced online from back in 2013 when Ajax fans were charged for holding an offensive banner up during a game against Celtic.
The banner in question had the words ‘Fenian B**tards’ displayed. This put Ajax under the spotlight at the time and they were forced to close a section of their stadium as a result.
What we didn’t read, however, was the SFA defending Ajax during the disciplinary hearing back in 2013. Ajax wrote to the Scottish football association about the term ‘Fenian’ and how they dealt with such matters in their domestic game.
Here is the full response which has been printed for public viewing on a Uefa Disciplinary document:
‘AFC Ajax contested the disciplinary inspector‟s argument that the word “Fenian” had
discriminatory connotations. It pointed out that the Celtic FC supporters called themselves
“Fenian” and took pride in the use of this word. Therefore, for Celtic FC supporters, the term
‘“Fenian” could be neither racist nor offensive and the expression used at the match
concerned, i.e. “Fenian Bastards”, was not racist.
‘- The respondent also stressed that its supporters had used the disputed word “Fenian”
because the Celtic FC supporters themselves had used it. Therefore, it had never crossed the opposing supporters‟ minds that it could ever be considered discriminatory.
‘- Contacted by AFC Ajax about the term “Fenian Bastards”, the Scottish Football
Association’s disciplinary services manager had commented that half the Celtic supporters
used the word “Fenian” as a badge of honour while the other half might consider it
unpleasant. The Scottish FA did not consider the word “Fenian” racist. It neither warned nor punished Celtic FC or Rangers FC for calling each other “Orange Bastards” and “Fenian
Bastards” respectively, since it considered such provocative words part of the game.’
This was submitted by Ajax as their defence at the time. Pretty startling stuff from our governing body. The flippant use of the term Fenian and telling Ajax as a matter of fact how many Celtic supporters call themselves this or use it as a badge of honour is also astonishing.
This is no laughing matter and deserves to be scrutinised. The fact the SFA have taken the stance they have at the time is very telling.