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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 March 2007, 18:31 GMT
Old Firm visit for church leaders
Celtic v Rangers
Rangers won the match at Parkhead by a goal to nil
Scotland's religious leaders saw first hand efforts being made to banish sectarianism from football as they attended an Old Firm derby.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Church of Scotland Moderator Alan McDonald were among those who watched Celtic take on rivals Rangers.

Representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities also joined First Minister Jack McConnell.

The match, at Celtic Park, ended with 0-1 scoreline in Rangers' favour.

There is still some way to go, but I look forward to continuing our progress towards creating a better society for future generations
Jack McConnell
First minister

Speaking after the game, Mr McConnell said: "Tackling sectarianism is about much more than football and it is important that we tackle the wider issues.

"However, joint visits such as this send a clear signal that Scotland is uniting in its efforts to rid the country of bigotry and religious hatred.

"The Old Firm clubs can be proud of the lead they have shown in recent times.

"They have an important role to play in denormalising sectarianism, and the progress that we are seeing now in defeating this ugly behaviour could not have been achieved without their co-operation."

He added: "We have come a long way with our work in schools, football banning orders and new ways of dealing with marches and parades.

"There is still some way to go, but I look forward to continuing our progress towards creating a better society for future generations."

Both the football clubs have committed to working with the Scottish Executive and the police to tackle the problems of racial and religious intolerance.

A spokesman for Celtic Football Club said: "We were delighted to welcome the first minister and religious leaders from Scotland to Celtic Park.

"As a club open to all we are fully committed to working against sectarianism and hopefully our guests will have seen the great progress which is being made at Celtic in recent years."

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