The public vilification of sports personalities is becoming a pandemic and needs to be urgently addressed by the authorities, according to Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.
In the build-up to last weekend’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox, two Celtic supporters filmed themselves shouting sectarian abuse at Rangers defender Russell Martin in a supermarket. After Celtic’s 3-2 victory, their winger, Scott Sinclair, was the victim of racist and sectarian abuse which led to three passengers being evicted from the BA lounge at Glasgow Airport, although they were not charged by the police.
On the same day, Sky pundit Jamie Carragher – who played under Rodgers at Liverpool – was recorded spitting at Manchester United fans from his car after being taunted following Liverpool’s defeat at Old Trafford.
Carragher, pictured, has subsequently been suspended until the end of the season by the broadcaster and Rodgers, who had been scheduled to appear as a guest on Sky’s Monday Night Football with him, had to return to Glasgow as a result.
“I was on my way to London when I got the message saying the show had to be cancelled,” he said. “Listen, he wouldn’t want anyone to defend him for his actions, that’s not right.
“I know Jamie well enough to know there will be no one more remorseful than him. There’s no excuse but I’ve had it myself when I’ve been goaded. You can be on a train and someone is being smart the whole journey.
“You saw it the other week with [England rugby coach] Eddie Jones and Russell Martin as well. People shouldn’t have the right to say and do what they want. It’s disgraceful.
“Others wonder why you are a bit cold with people but you have to be wary in this day and age with social media and everything that goes with it. People try to extract something out of you.
“I feel there should be something done, there’s no way people should get away with it. Look at Jamie’s situation; there’s a guy who is driving and endangering the life of his daughter [by filming the altercation]. It’s absolutely nonsense.
“We all have responsibilities; we have to be role models, which is important. But there has to be a level of respect going the other way was well. I only hope something can be done to legislate so it doesn’t keep happening.”
Rodgers, though, was more concerned with Sinclair’s ordeal.
“It’s poor that sort of thing still happens – in a private lounge, as well,” he said. “I spoke to Scott about it and he’s okay.
“It’s not a nice thing to have to deal with, though. You’re a footballer on the pitch but you are also a human being.
“That doesn’t entitle people to come up and think they can have a go at you. I’ve felt for a long time something should be done about it.”