Aberdeen boss McInnes wants end to sectarian problem

Derek McInnes
Derek McInnes

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes insists sectarian abuse within Scottish football must be highlighted and then condemned if there is to be any chance of it being eradicated from the game.

Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke accused the Rangers support of “living in the Dark Ages” after being subjected to sectarian abuse during his side’s 5-0 Scottish Cup defeat at Ibrox.

McInnes, a former Rangers player, accepts sectarianism has always blighted Scottish football and it will take “a lot of work” to eradicate it.

He said: “I have been involved in football now for more than 30 years and, from growing up in Paisley, have always been aware of it (sectarianism).

“It has always been there. Whether it has got any worse or any better I cannot say with any certainty.

“Every now and then it does throw itself forward again and it is in the spotlight a lot more.

“It is up to everyone to condemn it. It is up to the media and people to highlight it, vilify it and criticise it.

“Hopefully it can be a thing of the past in years to come but there is still a lot of work to be done to make that the case.”

The SFA have blasted the “unacceptable conduct” that has blighted Scottish football.

On Sunday, Kilmarnock captain Kris Boyd was allegedly subjected to sectarian abuse during their Premiership match against Celtic (1-0) and was also struck by a coin while on the touchline at Rugby Park.

Earlier this season, former Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon was struck on the head by an object thrown from the crowd during the Edinburgh derby at Hearts at Tynecastle.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “The Scottish FA condemns in the strongest possible terms the spate of incidents this season involving unacceptable conduct in Scottish football.

“This season we have witnessed match officials and players hit by coins, sectarian singing at matches and abusive and threatening behaviour towards match officials, players, managers and coaching staff.

“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and simply has no place in football, or indeed Scottish society.

“Football has a responsibility to take action.

“We must do all that we can under our current rules and engage with clubs to seek to eradicate such behaviour. “

The SFA have confirmed they are in discussions with their SPFL counterparts, as well as police and ministers, in a bid to rid the Scottish game of sectarian abuse, coin throwing and threatening behaviour.

Maxwell said: “This issue, however, is not one that football can solve on its own.

“To that end, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and I met with cabinet secretary for justice Humza Yousaf, minister for public health, sport and wellbeing Joe Fitzpatrick and Police Scotland assistant chief constable Bernie Higgins to discuss unacceptable conduct in football and how we can work together to address this.

“We will seek further discussions in light of the most recent events.”