Football

Smith wants sectarian songs to stop

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Manager Walter Smith admits he sung songs as a young Rangers fan that he would not sing now as he called for an end to all sectarian chanting.

The Scottish champions are facing disciplinary action from UEFA following allegations of discriminatory chanting by their supporters during last month's Europa League game against PSV Eindhoven.

Smith was keen to stress the work the club has undertaken in recent years in a bid to eradicate the problem but expressed fears Rangers could suffer "drastic consequences" if fans do not stop singing offensive songs at matches. He said: "I've sung songs, I've been there on the terracing as a youngster, I've done that."

He added: "But, certainly, I wouldn't put myself in a position to do it now. That's what I would ask supporters to do. It's fine when you have a great club, with a great tradition, as Rangers have and people feel that's a part of it.

"But I think when there is a reaction, as there has been over the last few years, against those traditions then the people who do sing them - and I would stress that I don't think it's the majority of Rangers supporters - need to take into account that in a modern era it's maybe not acceptable for them to do so.

"Therefore they need to realise the club are going to suffer quite drastic consequences if they don't stop. So I would ask them, considering the problems that our club have, to take that into account and stop singing the songs that are offensive."

Rangers took a major step forward in tackling sectarianism within Scottish football with the signing of Maurice Johnston in July 1989 but Smith acknowledges there is still some way to go before eradicating the problem completely.

He said: "It's the final hurdle. Everyone told us years ago that if we signed a Catholic then that would be the end of the sectarian aspect of Rangers Football Club, because we weren't happy, and we are not happy, with that aspect of it.

"We have signed players of all religions. The club has worked extremely hard in recent seasons in the background to make sure we try to eradicate the sectarian singing aspect. Obviously it's not worked so therefore we have to maybe take a look at it again and find a better solution.

"If supporters love the club and they want the club to have the proper image in the modern times, then we have to give up something and they have to give up the singing of sectarian songs. That's just the way it is. It will take a long time for it [to be stamped out]."

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