THE army, Police Scotland and Rangers Football Club have launched a joint investigation into allegations that members of the armed forces were involved in sectarian singing at Ibrox at the weekend.
The scenes at Rangers’ home game against Stenhousemuir on Saturday have been the subject of controversy on social networking sites, amid claims personnel were involved in sectarian singing or chanting.
About 400 members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, army and RAF were in attendance at the game, set up by the club to celebrate the country’s armed forces.
However, concern was raised following footage which has circulated on YouTube, prompting allegations that some of those representing the services were party to sectarian chanting.
The army, Police Scotland and Rangers confirmed they were aware of the complaints.
In a statement, the army said: “We are aware of a number of complaints against members of the armed forces at the Armed Forces Day match at Ibrox stadium at the weekend.
“The army and Police Scotland, assisted by Rangers Football Club, are investigating these complaints. Sectarianism is a breach of the army’s strict values and standards.
“If any personnel are found to have fallen short of these values and standards, they will be dealt with by administrative or disciplinary action by the chain of command and, if necessary, by the police.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Bates, of Police Scotland, said: “We are aware of concerns raised regarding the conduct of a number of people attending the Rangers v Stenhousemuir game at Ibrox on Saturday. These concerns are being investigated.”
While Rangers said it too was aware of complaints arising from the event, the club said it could not comment further on the allegations given the police investigation.
However, Rangers pointed out that the day was designed to honour members of the armed forces.
In a statement, it said: “Rangers Football Club and the Rangers Charity Foundation were proud to welcome over 400 personnel from the armed forces to Ibrox stadium on Saturday.
“The club has always been fully committed to honouring those who sacrifice so much for their country and we were delighted to invite members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, army and Royal Air Force to the match. The event was organised in conjunction with senior
personnel from each branch of the armed forces who were also represented in the directors’ box.
“The club are aware of complaints regarding the conduct of armed forces personnel on the pitch at half-time and understand that Police Scotland are investigating the circumstances. Therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
The compaints came after videos of the game were uploaded to YouTube. While the originals have since been taken down, copies have been re-posted across the internet
Other videos capture the build-up to the match, which saw two Royal Marines abseil down a stand before handing the match ball to the referee ahead of kick-off. Speaking ahead of Saturday’s match, Major General Nick Eeles, General Officer Commanding Scotland, said he was “delighted” Rangers came up with the idea of staging their own Armed Forces Day, an offshoot of the national event which takes place every June.
He said he hoped it would become a regular fixture in the calendar.
He wrote on the official Rangers website: “I very much hope this inaugural Armed Forces Day at Rangers will be repeated annually for many years to come, and that it will give you an appropriate opportunity to show your support for today’s generation of selfless, committed and courageous personnel, all of whom are enormously proud to serve their Queen and their country.”