THE fall-out from the chaotic scenes which followed the Scottish Cup final intensified last night when Rangers released a lengthy statement which took aim at the SFA, Saturday’s opponents Hibs, some members of the media and even First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Calling for a “full independent investigation” into the “shameful” incidents, Rangers expressed outrage at the physical abuse some of their players received during the pitch invasion and said they were disappointed that the behaviour of Hibs fans had been “glossed over”.
“Rangers find it incomprehensible that no one, either from within the SFA or Hibernian, has condemned Hibs’ supporters following the violent scenes,” said the statement. “We have not even had the courtesy of any contact whatsoever from Hibs to ask after the wellbeing of those who were attacked by their club’s supporters.”
The statement on Rangers’ website went on to criticise Sturgeon for sending a congratulatory tweet to Hibs without mention of the post-match disorder, and claimed certain media outlets have “distorted reality” with their reporting of events.
Here is the statement in full . . .
“Rangers finds it incomprehensible that no one, either from within the Scottish FA or Hibernian Football Club, has condemned Hibernian’s supporters following the violent scenes at the end of yesterday’s Scottish Cup final when Rangers players and members of our backroom staff were physically and verbally assaulted.
“We have not even had the courtesy of any contact whatsoever from Hibernian to ask after the wellbeing of those who were attacked by their club’s supporters.
“There must be a full independent investigation into the shameful scenes at Hampden. Rangers is also at a complete loss to understand why certain individuals have hastily attempted to gloss over the appalling events which unfolded at the end of Saturday’s final.
“No matter how many times Hibernian’s chairman and Scottish FA vice-chairman, Rod Petrie, and certain other biased commentators wish to play down Saturday’s mayhem and violence, the truth must not be distorted. What unfolded on Saturday cannot and must not be put down to exuberance. That is a complete insult to Rangers, our supporters, and those individuals who were intimidated and attacked.
“It was clear to most of those who watched in horror that the Scottish FA’s security procedures failed when Hibernian’s fans went over the top in their thousands. It is to be hoped that all of Scottish football will share Rangers’ disgust and any attempts to attach blame to our supporters for the disgraceful and violent behaviour, which led to our players and fans fearing for their safety, will not be accepted or tolerated by this Club.
“We acknowledge that a tiny minority of Rangers fans also encroached on the pitch but only after having been faced with prolonged and severe provocation and in order to protect our players and officials who were being visibly attacked in front of them. Any club’s supporters would have done the same. This distressing and deeply disturbing episode would never have happened had Hibs fans behaved properly but as they swarmed across the pitch it became immediately obvious that the security procedures were inadequate and had failed.
“These fans were allowed to rush, unchecked, towards Rangers supporters at the opposite end of the stadium – all the while goading and threatening them. This makes it preposterous to suggest Rangers fans were somehow to blame as some commentators appear anxious to do. This thuggish behaviour must be investigated and as many culprits as possible brought to book and formally charged. This is the second time in a year that Rangers fans have had to endure attacks by another club’s supporters.
“It must also be said that it was not at all helpful to see leading members of the Scottish Government, including the First Minister whose parish is Govan, passing comment on social media without any attempt to condemn the behaviour of Hibernian’s fans. These failures are unbecoming of our elected representatives.
“Certain media outlets have also attempted to distort reality. In the case of the BBC this is, of course, not news. BBC employees, in particular Stuart Cosgrove, believe Rod Petrie’s comments to be ‘balanced’ and others speak of a ‘minority’ of Hibernian supporters. Another, Tom English, who was not even at the match, would prefer the authorities to focus on Rangers fans’ reaction. We will not endure this insult.
“So, let everyone be clear on one thing – Rangers demands that players, staff and fans be protected from the violence and hatred of supporters of other clubs. Rangers fully expects the Scottish FA and Police Scotland to take action to provide our people with a safe environment. When players are unable to accept medals at the end of a final because of fears for their safety and our supporters are alarmed and extremely concerned for the women and children among them, then surely every step must be taken to ensure that this is never repeated.”