After the First Minister told an audience at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe that football clubs must root out sectarianism or the Scottish Government will “step in”, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur said that her intervention will prove lightweight unless she publishes the secret data ministers hold on sectarianism.
A joint investigation by the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Nil By Mouth, uncovered that the football authorities have compiled a database of sectarian incidents at football, following an agreement with the Scottish Government and police. However, in exchange for access to the data ministers agreed to be gagged and keep its contents secret from the public and Parliament.
The data is only being collected because a Scottish Government-appointed expert recommended it be made public to allow for “genuine debate about the extent of sectarian behaviour and attitudes in football”.
Mr McArthur commented:
“The First Minister’s remarks on sectarianism will prove lightweight unless she immediately orders the release of the secret sectarianism data her government holds.
“SNP ministers were told by an expert to collect data and publish it. However, they effectively contracted this out to the SPFL and, in exchange for their doing the legwork, ministers signed a gagging order.
“Nobody outside ministers, football chiefs and the police knows what the database contains because they are all keeping it shtum.
“The First Minister must publish this data today. If the Scottish Government doesn’t do the right thing this time then the threats of more serious action will just be brushed off.”