Brendan Rodgers: There must be no let-up in fight on racism

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers at training. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers at training. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
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Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has called for continued vigilance against racism in Scottish football after Scott Sinclair was the subject of a second incident within a few days.

The Celtic winger was first targeted with racial abuse at Ibrox during last Saturday’s Old Firm game. Paul Kenny, 28, admitted a breach of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

Police Scotland have now reported a 17-year-old woman to the procurator fiscal for alleged online racial abuse of Sinclair.

Speaking for the first time about the incidents, Rodgers expressed his surprise and dismay at an issue he admits he did not anticipate having to confront in Scotland. But the former Liverpool manager does not believe it will discourage any other potential signings from agreeing to join Celtic.

“I would hope not,” said Rodgers. “It’s an isolated incident. I would always speak in defence of the people up here and the football clubs here. It’s not isolated just to Scotland. It does happen but thankfully it’s much less so in Britain now. You have to show your strength together.

“I was surprised by it because I haven’t seen anything like that coming since I’ve been up here. All the stadiums I have been in, the supporters have been passionate. You get abuse, of course you do. That’s football and you expect that. But that [racism] is just not what you want.

“A great education has gone on in Britain over the last 20 years in terms of dealing with this sort of thing. There is no place for it in society. There is certainly no place for it in football. At least there has been actions put in place [by the police] for it for Scotty.

“It just shows you, he is 28 and it’s the first time he has ever experienced anything like that. It’s not nice that it has happened up here, because I know the people up here are good people.

“But Scott is strong with it. His team-mates and our supporters are all behind him. We will move on from it and hopefully there won’t be more incidents like it.

“You would hope that one day we can kick it out completely. There has been so much good work which has gone on. It shouldn’t matter what colour you are, what religion you are. It doesn’t matter.But it also shows that you have to remain vigilant towards it and ensure everyone is pulling together, because it’s not something you want to see at all in society or in a football game.”

Sinclair, pictured, is a leading contender to land the Player of the Year honours in Scotland this season and Rodgers is confident that the vast majority of opposition fans have a positive appreciation of the winger.

“I would hope so,” added Rodgers. “He is a great boy. I knew what I was getting which is why I thought he would be perfect for Celtic.

“In the main, the majority of Scottish football supporters – although they know he is a threat – will notice a real upgrade in level of player when they watch him.

“Not only that, he is a real good kid as well. He is a young man who leads his life well, trains virtually every day. All the supporters up here want that type of talent to be here, not to be pushed out of it any way at all.

“My responsibility is to bring the best game to Scotland that we can, particularly Celtic, and for that you need the best players.”