Fans asked to support axing of football act

Labour activists make their message clear outside Fir Park on Saturday.

Labour activists make their message clear outside Fir Park on Saturday.

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Labour activists leafletted supporters at Fir Park on Saturday calling for legislation which targets football fans to be axed.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act was introduced in 2012 in a bid to clamp down on sectarianism, but opponents believe it has failed to do so.

In January the Fans Against Criminalisation campaign group appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions claiming the act has eroded trust between supporters and police while failing to tackle bigotry and even a risk to freedom of speech.

John Pentland, Labour’s candidate in the Motherwell and Wishaw seat, said: “There was a great response from both Motherwell and Celtic fans to the message that Scottish Labour would scrap this act.

“I believe the place to tackle intolerance is in our classrooms, in our communities and through the clubs in cooperation with fans.

“We should not be setting up barriers and driving a wedge between supporters and the police.

“The Football Act has clearly eroded football fans trust in the police at a time when public confidence in our force is already at a low point.

“This is a bad law that was bulldozed through by an SNP majority and they are responsible for the discord it has caused.

“They need to understand that the problem of sectarianism in Scotland goes far beyond 90 minutes on a Saturday or 140 characters in a tweet.

“The next generation should be the one that ends sectarianism for good, but that starts with people working together, getting our priorities straight.

“Scottish Labour has promised to get rid of this iniquitous and unhelpful Act. A vote for me and every vote for Labour is a vote to ditch the Football Act.”

Activists are now looking to set up meetings on the issue to which local candidates would be invited.