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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Plea to 'give bigotry the boot'
Celtic and Rangers fans
The rivalry is evident on Old Firm match days
Fans have been urged to stand united against sectarianism, as the new football season gets under way.

Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry said it was the fans themselves who could drive bigotry from football grounds.

He said the Scottish Executive had launched a number of initiatives to tackle sectarianism and new laws had been used to target bigoted behaviour.

But Mr Henry said fans also held the responsibility to "report it rather than ignore it".

"I want this season to be the one where ordinary fans show the red card to the mindless, sectarian minority who tarnish the reputations of the clubs they claim to support," he said.

"Last season saw the start of real change in the drive to rid our country of the stain of bigotry. But we have further to go.

"We all need to take responsibility for our words and actions. It doesn't matter where you go on a Saturday or which team you support.

I want this season to be the one where ordinary fans show the red card to the mindless, sectarian minority
Hugh Henry
Deputy Justice Minister

"Traditional football songs should not be twisted into sectarian anthems. If you know your history, then you also know sectarianism is wrong.

"If you don't mean it, don't say it. If you hear it, report it rather than ignore it."

The executive, police, football clubs, and faith groups have been working together to tackle sectarianism, which has been a long-standing problem in the west of Scotland.

Rangers and Celtic football clubs have launched the Old Firm Alliance, taking football coaching and anti-sectarianism into schools throughout Glasgow.

Around 50,000 young people have received anti-sectarianism wristbands in an initiative with Strathclyde Police and the Scottish Hospice Association.

And First Minister Jack McConnell hosted the country's first sectarianism summit in February this year.

Wristband plan to tackle bigotry
20 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Old Firm 'takes on' sectarianism
19 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Children urged to combat bigotry
22 Mar 05 |  Scotland
'Historic' summit tackles bigotry
14 Feb 05 |  Scotland
'First steps' on end to bigotry
14 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Fans and McConnell tackle bigotry
07 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Team bid to tackle sectarianism
06 Jan 05 |  Scotland

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