Rangers skipper James Tavernier has welcomed Scottish football’s show of unity in combatting racism – but warned Wednesday’s Hampden summit must not become another box-ticking exercise.
Scotland’s clubs were invited to a meeting aimed at tackling the rise in discriminatory abuse following the alleged race storm involving Gers midfielder Glen Kamara.
The Finland midfielder claims he was called a “f****** monkey” by Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela during this month’s explosive Europa League clash at Ibrox, while striker Kemar Roofe received online abuse in the wake of the last-16 clash.
There has been widespread backing for the Ibrox pair, with Celtic skipper Scott Brown even embracing Old Firm rival Kamara ahead of last week’s derby showdown.
Tavernier led the Ibrox delegation to Wednesday’s summit, organised by the Scottish Football Association, and while he was pleased to see Scotland’s clubs coming together, he stressed it must not become another meaningless gesture that does little to solve the problem faced by black players.
The Light Blues captain told the club’s website: “This was a very useful exercise and it was pleasing to be able to air my views to the rest of the clubs in the SPFL as well as the SFA.
“Every black player in our squad had been the victim of racist abuse this season, either online or in the case of Glen Kamara, on the field of play. This is unacceptable and must stop.
“It is vital that football authorities, clubs, government bodies and social media companies work together to educate and empower to ultimately, eradicate hatred from our game and society in general.
“We are keen to continue to engage but highlighted that we need to see clear outcomes from discussions rather than simply ticking a box.”
Celtic also attended the event, with Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell adding: “Unfortunately, across many years, numerous Celtic players and staff have been subjected to various forms of racism and discrimination.
“Whether it relates to Celtic or any other club, it is time it stopped. Racism or any other form of discrimination should have no place in football or society and we need to do all we can to eradicate such prejudice.
“As a club open to all since 1888 we will continue to do all we can to promote this hugely important message and we look forward to working with other clubs and the wider football authorities to tackle this issue.”
As well as the Glasgow giants, representatives from clubs across Scotland’s four professional leagues as well as the women’s game joined a series of virtual forums to talk through how to “implement a co-ordinated strategy to tackle abuse on the field of play and online”.
Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar made an impassioned statement to the attendees as the likes of Livingston’s Marvin Bartley – who has been appointed as an advisor to the SFA’s equality and diversity advisory board – Aberdeen’s goalkeeper Joe Lewis and Kilmarnock’s Gary Dicker watched on.
SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell said: “It is hugely encouraging that Scottish football is united in tackling discrimination head-on.
“With a cross-section of the game represented today the imperative now is to continue the momentum and dialogue with key stakeholders – including social media companies – to take the necessary practical steps to eradicating racism.”