Cup Final Aftermath – Scottish government and senior journalists criticised by Rangers

Rangers Football Club has slammed the post-match reactions of several journalists and the Scottish government after violent scenes marred the clubs’ Scottish Cup Final with Hibernian.

In an official statement published on the club’s official website, Rangers said it found it “incomprehensible” that neither the Scottish FA or Hibernian Football Club had condemned the pitch invasion from the Edinburgh clubs’ supporters.

The Glasgow club also complained of a lack of courtesy from their match opponents after they claim Hibernian fans assaulted Rangers’ players and officials.

The statement follows chaotic scenes immediately after the final whistle on Saturday when thousands of Hibernian fans ran onto the pitch in celebration after their team ended its 114 year Scottish Cup drought.  Whilst most fans celebrated, a minority made their way towards Rangers fans who were stationed in the opposite end of the stadium.

Hundreds of Rangers fans spilled out onto the pitch as a minority from each support traded kicks and punches.  Images showed Rangers and Hibernian fans both guilty of attacking the other.  A video of the scene also appeared to show a Hibernian fan throwing a punch at two Rangers players as they tried to leave the pitch.

The cup ceremony was delayed for at least half an hour as police moved to clear the pitch.  Rangers players were unable to receive their runners up medals.  The club has called for a full investigation into the scenes.

However there has been criticism of the Rangers’ statement after it singled out First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and two leading journalists for criticism.  The club accused “certain individuals” of trying to “gloss over” what the club described as appalling events and of trying to distort the truth.

“What unfolded on Saturday cannot and must not be put down to exuberance. That is a complete insult to Rangers, our supporters, and those individuals who were intimidated and attacked.” the statement said.

Rangers also sought to exonerate its own supporters for any blame for the scenes which were beamed around the world, adding:

“It is to be hoped that all of Scottish football will share Rangers’ disgust and any attempts to attach blame to our supporters for the disgraceful and violent behaviour, which led to our players and fans fearing for their safety, will not be accepted or tolerated by this Club.

“We acknowledge that a tiny minority of Rangers fans also encroached on the pitch but only after having been faced with prolonged and severe provocation and in order to protect our players and officials who were being visibly attacked in front of them. Any club’s supporters would have done the same.”

However there has been widespread dismay at attempts by the club to single out politicians and journalists for criticism.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s post match comment on social media which congratulated Hibs on the side’s win was described by Rangers as “unbecoming”.  The SNP leader’s constituency in Govan was also cryptically described as a ‘parish’.

Reporters were accused of “distorting reality”.  Writer and broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove and journalist Tom English were also accused of either ignoring or playing down the behaviour of Hibs’ fans.

The Rangers statement added defiantly: “We will not endure this insult.”

Critics of the club have pointed out Rangers have made no mention of the sectarian chants from the clubs’ own supporters that peppered the cup final.  Clearly audible were songs which contained the phrases ‘fenian bastards’ and ‘up to our knees in fenian blood’.

Police Scotland have announced they are carrying out investigations into the post match scenes.

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