When UEFA announced that they had opened a disciplinary case against Celtic for “illicit” chanting I said that I had no idea what that word meant within that organisation’s lexicon.
Now I do know and so should everyone else that has an interest in this matter.
UEFA have been very precise.
They have ruled and the club has belatedly confirmed that the “oo ah up the rah” chant is an infringement of UEFA’s rules.
It is for another day to discuss the merits of the chant and the sentiments expressed by it.
It would also be an error to lose sight of the significance of the UEFA ruling today because of the events at Holyrood yesterday.
Just let’s focus on the cause and effect of the UEFA decision.
This ruling means that anyone who indulges in this chant while inside a stadium when Celtic is playing in a UEFA controlled match can’t claim ignorance.
The question the fans have to ask themselves is what price are they prepared for the club to pay for their right to chant that slogan?
Of course we can’t know for sure, but did the absence of Rangers supporters in the away match at Malmo last August help to turn the match in favour of the home team?
Maybe it did.
One thing that isn’t a matter of conjecture is that at ban on away fans is the type of sanction that awaits Celtic in Europe if this chant continues.
UEFA is not the SPL.
They have taken action and they will act again if they think it necessary.
Moreover no one in the Celtic family can make any case that UEFA has historically been hostile to Celtic.
UEFA did not ask Celtic to take down the Irish Tricolour from Celtic Park in the 1950s, but the SFA did.
No matter the genesis of the complaint at the Rennes game the club has been dealt with fairly by UEFA.
Ultimately it will be the club not the people uttering the chants who will pick up the tab.
This chanting and the UEFA fine is meat and drink for those in the Scottish media who are stuck in the “one side is as bad as the other.”
Those people love to use terms like “Old Firm shame.”
There are many in Scotland that would love to fillet Celtic and rip out the Irish heart from the club.
The Celtic family are rightly proud of the club’s Irish roots.
Opposing this chant does not equate with wanting Celtic to divest itself of our Irish heritage.
However persisting with it will strengthen the hand of those who wish to do just that.
The club has to provide leadership in this matter and it must communicate effectively with the fans.
As I revealed yesterday Celtic were offered expert professional advice on these matters 18 months ago and turned down the offer.
I have attempted to engage with senior club employees on the issue, but many of the nuances seem beyond them.
At the end of the day it comes down to the fans in the stadium.
I wonder, and can only speculate, if those guys at the Rennes game who indulged in this chanting think that they should continue doing this stuff?
They have a choice to make from now on.
Tonight in Italy the Celtic fans there can choose to support the “rah” or they can choose to support Celtic.
UEFA has said they can’t do both.