Government demands action from SFA after Scottish Cup final disorder

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The Scottish Football Association (SFA) should toughen rules on fan misconduct or the Scottish Government will intervene, the Justice Secretary has said.

Michael Matheson suggested that "strict liability" rules could be introduced to tackle incidents such as the disorder which occurred at the end of the Scottish Cup final.

Following the SFA's AGM in Glasgow, Matheson said: "The scenes we saw at Hampden last week were appalling and the Scottish Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the disorder and violence which scarred the end of the game.

"But from those dreadful scenes there is an opportunity to address some of the negative long-standing issues in the game, and I want football to be proactive and seize that opportunity.

"We need a transparent and robust scheme to prevent unacceptable conduct and deal with it effectively if it does occur, and encourage clubs to take all action possible to address unacceptable conduct.

"That may be strict liability or a form of strict liability, or it may be something else, but the bottom line is we want to see football taking the opportunity to finally address this long-standing issue.

"All Scottish clubs competing in European competitions are already subject to strict liability, so it can and does work in Scotland and a form of it could be used in domestic football."

He added: "I hope football can rise to this challenge and finally address this issue, and the Scottish Government is ready to work together constructively on this.

"I am encouraged by the initial response, but let me be absolutely clear: the Scottish Government is prepared to act if Scottish football isn't. On that basis we will explore alternative options if no solution can be delivered by football.

"However, I genuinely hope that this is not needed and Scottish football takes control of its own destiny."

UEFA, the governing body of football in Europe, uses the "strict liability" system to address offensive behaviour at matches.

Under the rules, a club is responsible for the conduct of its fans regardless of whether the club itself is to blame, with sanctions including warnings, fines, annulment of the result, replays, closure of sections of grounds, and the docking of points.

Scottish clubs previously rejected attempts to introduce "strict liability", but the issue is now back on the agenda after the cup final at Hampden between Hibernian and Rangers was marred by disorder and violence at the end of the game.

Thousands of Hibs supporters flooded on to the pitch following the Edinburgh team's dramatic win and Rangers said their players and staff were assaulted.

Police Scotland set up a dedicated inquiry team to investigate the incident, while the SFA said an independent commission chaired by Sheriff Principal Edward F Bowen will carry out a review of operational matters at the match.

Rangers vowed to take action against any of their fans found guilty of disorder, while Hibs announced they will impose sanctions, including lifetime bans, against a number of supporters.

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