Leigh Griffiths faces ‘racist singing’ charge
CELTIC striker Leigh Griffiths has been issued with a more serious charge by the Scottish Football Association after being accused of “singing in public a song of an offensive, racist and/or discriminatory nature”.
Griffiths was last week hit with a charge of not acting in the best interests of football by “singing about Hearts in administration” and the notice of complaint was updated after an SFA compliance officer watched fresh footage, which emerged at the weekend.
This appeared to show the Scotland international singing in a pub with Hibernian fans as they chanted a derogatory song describing former Hearts player Rudi Skacel as a “refugee”.
Griffiths, whose actions are also under investigation by police and his club, has now been accused of bringing the game into disrepute.
The 23-year-old – who joined Celtic from Wolves in January – was filmed with fellow Hibs supporters before watching his former team-mates lose 2-0 against Hearts at Tynecastle on 30 March.
After the initial footage emerged of him singing “Hearts are going bust”, Celtic manager Neil Lennon last week warned Griffiths that the transgression was “his one strike”.
Celtic stated on Monday that they took the fresh allegations “extremely seriously”, while Police Scotland confirmed they had launched inquiries into allegations of “racist chanting by a 23-year-old Scottish Premier League footballer”.
The SFA disciplinary hearing has been set for 24 April.
Lennon, meanwhile, admits he is looking for potential replacements for several players for whom summer bids are “all but inevitable”.
Lennon expects another summer of change at Parkhead, although he is not sure how many players will leave.
And he accepts that they now face more competition in the transfer market as they look to unearth another “gem”.
Celtic sold Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Kelvin Wilson last summer and Lennon is unsure whether there will be any less upheaval this year.
He told fifa.com: “I think there will be suitors for a couple of our big players, and one or two are coming out of contract, so you’d have to expect they’ll be leaving. Realistically, I think we have to expect another decent turnaround, with a few players going out and a few coming in.”
Lennon has already admitted he expects goalkeeper Fraser Forster to attract attention in the summer, while out-of-contract Georgios Samaras is set to move on.
Israeli midfielder Beram Kayal told a newspaper in his homeland that he might be sold with a year left on his deal and the agent of Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk has spoken about a potential move. Tom Rogic and Tony Watt have also been loaned out for spells this season. Lennon added: “Bids are all but inevitable for a couple of our players, it’s just whether we accept them or not.
“But everyone has their price and we’re preparing with that in mind, looking at other options for the positions concerned.”
Selling Van Dijk and Forster would bank Celtic a healthy profit, which they made with their three sales last year.
But the likes of Teemu Pukki, Derk Boerrigter and Amido Balde have struggled to make a major impact this season and Lennon admits that signing younger players from abroad is always something of a gamble. “We’re already looking at a few players we like, and with the league now settled, it gives me the space to go out myself and look at a few who are under consideration,” he said.
“But whether we can keep on unearthing little gems, or big gems, is another matter.
“Our strategy has worked on the whole, but other clubs are now looking at our model and trying to copy it.
“And you can’t always get your signings right. You just hope that your record of good ones outweighs the bad because it’s such a crucial part of the job.”