Now that the Police have charged an individual with racially abusing Alfredo Morelos at the Old Firm game on 29 December, it is necessary to state yet again that racist abuse, indeed abuse of any form, must never be condoned or dismissed.
The first thing to be made clear is that even though many others commented on the issue of abuse (racial and sectarian) directed towards Alfredo Morelos, Rangers had a duty of care not to say anything that might compromise a live Police Scotland investigation. What none of us should ever do, however, is dismiss, or trivialise abusive behaviour as too many media outlets, journalists, and pundits have done in this instance.
Perhaps there might be a bout of contrition and one or two may feel a pang of guilt now that the evidence some of them so loudly demanded is there in the form of this charge.
If enough of our media had been of a mind to treat the issue with the gravity required from the outset, as normally happens with these issues, there would have been none of the dismissive comments which have helped pollute social media, newspapers and broadcast platforms. Social media is, of course, largely lawless but some of the pieces written and broadcast around Alfredo Morelos in mainstream media were and remain disgraceful.
He has been described as a waster, a cheat, an angry brat and one columnist/pundit actually wrote that if you can’t take the vitriol you are in the wrong city. The implication seems to be that the fault lies not with those who choose racism and abuse, but with a young immigrant who chose to come to our country. This is a deeply disturbing attitude and that it was actually expressed in a national newspaper defies belief.
When a player is at the centre of an abuse claim he is treated with respect and sensitivity and given support. That is certainly the case in England, but not here and most certainly not with Alfredo Morelos, who is actually being demonised in many quarters of the media.
A number of factually incorrect stories have been written and published about Alfredo recently causing a great deal of stress and anxiety within his family at a time when his heavily-pregnant wife should be calm and relaxed.
A river of negative and hurtful attention has been flowing towards the Morelos family without thought or concern for the individuals involved and the way they have been treated is shameful. Especially vulgar is the manner in which claims of abuse, racist and sectarian, have been dismissed in some quarters – BBC Scotland in particular – where the overall situation has been mocked amid outrageous claims that Rangers were behind the leaking of certain stories. None of this shows our media and country in a good light.
Perhaps now some people will take a long and honest look at themselves and who knows, they might even apologise, but all of this serves only to make Rangers even more committed to our Everyone Anyone campaign. We will not stop or slow our efforts to make Ibrox a place open and welcoming to all.
Finally, Rangers would be more than happy to accommodate the young person involved in this latest incident on one of our courses designed to help people understand why racist and sectarian abuse is unacceptable. Indeed, if any of those journalists/pundits who got it so badly wrong would like to attend we’d also welcome and help them.