Artur Boruc, Celtic FC’s goalie has been cautioned by the Glasgow Fiscal Prosecutor for making the Catholic sign of the cross before a game with Rangers, his team’s arch Protestant rivals.
Confused? You shouldn’t be. Welcome to the wonderful world of Scottish sectarian football.
The religious Lifesite reports:
According to the Crown Office, [back in January this year] the goalkeeper of Celtic, Artur Boruc, gave three gestures, which incensed the home crowd of the opposing Rangers during a heated Old Firm match at Ibrox stadium in Glasgow. Artur Boruc, gave a “V” for victory and an obscene gesture toward the crowd; however the crowd also complained about Boruc’s crossing himself at the start of the second half of the February 12 match.
For clueless non-football fans I should explain that Glasgow has two teams: Celtic, which is traditionally supported by Scottish Catholics, and Rangers, which is followed by Scottish Presbyterians.
Apparently, a Polish goalkeeper who crosses himself for luck can be cautioned for inflammatory behavior.
Church spokesman Peter Kearney found the decision "alarming" and said, "It is extremely regrettable that Scotland seems to have made itself one of the few countries in the world where this simply religious gesture is considered an offence."
According to the Sunday Herald, the Catholic Church is seeking the Crown Office to clarify “whether or not it deems the sign of the cross to be an offensive action, which is the equivalent of gratuitous hand gestures”.
“This is not simply a Catholic issue but a human rights issue,” said a spokesman for the Church. “Freedom of religion is part of the UN Declaration on Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Human right? This is football, mate. It’s just a game.
Poor old Artur Boruc must also be confused about the other ‘offensive’ gesture he made to the crowd: putting two fingers up in the air.
Of course, in Britain this is the sign of ‘F#ck off!’…but in Poland the same gesture is made with only one finger – as in ‘Spin on it’.
And I am sure that fans of the Protestant Glasgow Rangers – no angels themselves - can take a couple of innocent gestures made by a newly arrived Polish goalkeeper (he’s only been playing at Celtic since last season).
One of the favorite songs of Rangers fans that can be heard sung at the Ibrox stadium (and a song that has got the PC UEFA football authorities up in arms recently) goes something like this:
Hullo, hullo, we are the Billy Boys!
Hullo, hullo, you’ll know us by our noise!
We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood!
Surrender or you’ll die!
Winding up the opposite team is part of the game of football. Always has been.