Monday, April 11, 2005

450 years later and Scotland is still screwed up

A black mark on Edinburgh's Protestants: soccer fans booing during a moment of silence for the Pope before a match yesterday.

Some background: Scotland may be nearing its 300th anniversary as a part of the United Kingdom (1707 Treaty of Union) but its major sectarian differences with the English still survive in some form. Scotland has had a Catholic/Protestant divide in every day life for centuries, just like Ireland, but its inclusion in the UK and the defeat of "Bonny Prince Charlie" at Culloden over 250 years ago ultimately resulted in a more peaceful coexistence between Scotland's Catholics and Protestants. "More peaceful" means violent attitudes remaining below the surface, unlike Ireland.

Edinburgh and Glasgow each have two Scottish Premier League Football (read: soccer) teams. For Edinburgh, the Hearts (Heart of Midlothian Football Club) and Hibernian; from Glasgow, Celtic and Rangers. Each side has historically been supported by either Protestants (Hearts, Rangers) or Catholics (Hibernian, Celtic). And in the main rivalry of Scottish football, Rangers-Celtic, the matches have often been a backdrop to sectarian violence.

Yesterday in Edinburgh, Hearts hosted Celtic in the semifinals of the Scottish Cup. When Hearts asked for a moment of silence to honor the Pope, the following happened:

Fans at a Scottish Cup soccer game jeered during a minute's silence for Pope John Paul II on Sunday, forcing the tribute to be cut short.

The booing by Hearts fans came before the semifinal against Celtic, which has mostly Catholic fans. Referee Stuart Dougal ended the memorial less than halfway through because of the noise. The game was televised in Britain and overseas.

A disgusting display by the Scottish Prods available for all Britain to see. Hearts' CEO apologized to Celtic and blasted the fans. In a similar display Saturday, Dundee United fans jeered during a remembrance of the Pope when Dundee United hosted Hibernian in the other Scottish Cup semi. As for karmic retribution: only 50% efficient because Dundee United won, but Hearts appropriately lost.

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