Covid: Rangers FC and fans who broke rules should be condemned, but not the police – Scotsman comment

The crowds of Rangers’ fans who gathered in large numbers to celebrate their Scottish Premiership title victory – in defiance of the Covid restrictions – should be ashamed of themselves.

John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy First Minister, was quite right to condemn their behaviour as an “absolute disgrace” and also to criticise the club itself for failing to comply with official requests to urge supporters to obey the law.

We can only hope that this does not become a ‘super-spreader’ event that sets back the fight against this terrible virus in Scotland.

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There are some who have gone further than condemning Rangers and those fans who so publicly flouted the rules by criticising Police Scotland for its failure to break up the crowds. However, The Scotsman will not be joining them.

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As Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland explained, officers were presented with a situation in which thousands of supporters had gathered at various different locations in the city. Police decided to make public safety their main priority and “established crowd control measures to prevent serious disorder in multiple areas”. Arrests were made for assaulting police officers, sectarian-related breaches of the peace and other offences.

Attempting to break up crowds would only have increased the level of violence and may well have made things worse in terms of the spread of the disease.

In situations like this, we need to trust the judgment of the police. Armchair chief constables are obviously allowed to have their opinions, but they should not be given anything like the weight of the people who are expert in facing such difficult and potentially dangerous situations.

Rangers fans gather in Glasgow's George Square to celebrate the club winning the Scottish Premiership (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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