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Monday 20 March 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# Old Firm
Two arrested over online sectarian hate campaigns ahead of Old Firm derby
Scottish police have arrested two people accused of spreading online hatred of Celtic and Rangers players and staff.

POLICE IN SCOTLAND have arrested two men as part of an operation attempting to clamp down on online hate campaigns targeting players of the Rangers and Celtic football clubs.

The two men, aged 23 and 27, were arrested in separate operations in Paisley and Glasgow, with more than 50 police involved.

The two are suspected of being behind separate online campaigns spreading hatred against not only players, but also staff, at the opposing Glasgow clubs, which dominate the Scottish football scene.

Some of the evidence detailed in Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper apparently showed one Celtic ‘fan’ urging Rangers to send Senegalese striker El Hadji Diouf – currently on loan at the club from Blackburn Rovers – “back to the jungle”.

Others, however, had posted images of Celtic manager Neil Lennon with bullet holes, and pictured in crosshairs.

Scotland on Sunday said it understood that further arrests were likely later this week.

“I would like to deliver a clear message to those who continue to make hate-filled comments, and cause distress to decent members of the public, that we will pursue you relentlessly until this behaviour is stopped,” the Independent on Sunday quotes superintendent Kirk Kinnell as saying.

Some people seem to think they are anonymous online or can hide in a crowd, but technology can also be used to bring the police directly to you wherever you are.

The arrests came a day before this afternoon’s Old Firm derby between the two sides, in a match that will all but decide the destination of the Scottish Premier League title. Rangers currently top the table, a point ahead of Celtic, who have played one game fewer.

They also come in a week where it was revealed that Lennon, a Catholic from Northern Ireland, and two prominent supporters of the club had been targeted by viable parcel bombs.

This afternoon’s fixture, which kicks off at 12:30pm, follows earlier tense clashes between the sides this year; in the last such derby, three players were sent off while Lennon became embroiled in a touchline confrontation with Rangers assistant coach Ally McCoist.