Steven Gerrard has questioned why Steve Clarke railed against the sectarian chanting he was subjected to at Ibrox on Wednesday night but made no comment on the similar abuse suffered by Kris Boyd during Kilmarnock’s match with Celtic at the weekend.
Clarke said that the west of Scotland was stuck in the “dark ages” after a section of the Rangers support directed chants of “sad Fenian bastard” towards the Kilmarnock manager towards the end of his team’s 5-0 defeat in the Scottish Cup fifth round replay.
Rangers manager Gerrard said he backed his club’s stance, set out in a short statement issued yesterday, that “unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated at Ibrox” and that “everything will be done to eradicate this kind of behaviour”. But the former England captain also sought to present a contrast in Clarke’s reaction on Wednesday and his handling of taunts of “sad Orange bastard” directed towards Boyd from the Celtic support as the Kilmarnock substitute warmed up during the Scottish champions’ 1-0 win at Rugby Park on Sunday.
Asked about the abuse Clarke was subjected to, Gerrard said: “Well I think it’s happened in the last four or five days to Steve and his players. “There was stuff said at Kilmarnock v Celtic as well at the weekend but Steve didn’t want to really speak about the abuse that Boydy got. But obviously he’s decided to speak about it last night.
“All I can say is as a club we don’t support any unacceptable behaviour from the terraces. Whatever that may be, whomever it may involve, we don’t support it. “We’ve made a statement on it and made that very clear. As a club we want to eradicate that type of stuff from the terraces.”
Gerrard said “of course” he was “aware” of sectarianism during his first season in Scotland. Without ever using referring to sectarianism directly, he sought to place it in the wider context of unacceptable behaviour, which he said is not unique to Scotland.
“Individuals and small minorities at certain stadiums let themselves down unfortunately,” he said. “That’s not just in this league. I’ve had experience of it before. Of late, there’s been different kind of abuse in football matches and as a football family we should all be trying to eradicate it from the terraces because it’s unacceptable. I respect Steve’s opinion on it but all I have to say as the manager of Rangers is we don’t support it from fans on our terraces. “We want it out, whatever kind of abuse it is we don’t want it. Homophobic, racial, religion, we don’t want it and we don’t support it.”
Gerrard is in no doubt that recent events, coupled with incidents of coin throwing - most recently at Rugby Park where Boyd was hit on the elbow - besmirch the Scottish game, but football has issues worldwide. And he maintained it would be wrong simply to view Rangers’ entire support through the prism of what befell Clarke.
‘I think it tarnishes the game around the world when you see incidents of coin throwing, racism, homophobia, it tarnishes the game,” the Rangers manager said. “The majority are doing their best to eradicate it but I don’t think you can tar every supporter with the same brush.
‘We had nearly 40,000 fans at that game on a cold Wednesday night for a cup game on the back of a poor performance against St Johnstone. “There’s a lot of praise to go to our supporters too. I thought they got behind the team and the players treated them to a very important result. Unfortunately there were a minority there and we will try and eradicate that from our support.”