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Fans Against Criminalisation were formed in response to the Scottish Government's plans to introduce the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 (OBFA). We now see this attempt to hold a comprehensive review of this Act as a means to our end goal of having it repealed.

FAC initially consisted of the 5 main Celtic supporters’ groups: The Green Brigade, The Celtic Trust, The Celtic Supporter’s Association, The Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters’ Clubs and The Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs. However, it was never intended that this be a Celtic supporters’ organisation and from the outset invitations to get involved were issued to supporters of other clubs. Just as importantly, offers of assistance and advice were made to, and accepted by, fans of any Club charged under the Act. At the current time (2015) we have supporters of Hamilton, Motherwell and Rangers involved in the planning of FAC activities.

Our opposition to this Act is based on several fundamental principles. It is both discriminatory and dangerous to create a law which creates an offence for one group within a society, when the same actions or behaviours would not result in a criminal charge for others. We would also like to stress that our opposition to this Act is in no way related to sectarianism or hate speech. We do however oppose the criminalisation of something as subjective as offensiveness.

Our campaign began with the objective of de-railing the emergency process however the emergency bill was scrapped. As a group we campaigned vigorously against the bill as it went through the regular Parliamentary procedures, however given that the SNP maintain a parliamentary majority, it was bound to be an uphill struggle. Although the bill was voted through Parliament, we took solace from the fact that every single MSP in opposition voted against the Act. 

Although initially set up to oppose the passing of the bill, FAC continued with the renewed goals of challenging the Act and helping those who have been criminalised as a result of it. Every action that we have taken has been done with this goal in mind. We have tried to ensure that the issue is kept in the spotlight and have attempted to place pressure on the Scottish Government through various means.

Over the course of the last few years, FAC and its constituent groups have held mass demonstrations, held visual protests during football matches and offered critiques on what we believe to be skewed statistics produced by the Scottish Government in an attempt to undermine the law and convince both the public and the Government of the flaws inherent within it. FAC have protested at the Scottish Parliament, at Police stations and at the SNP national conference. Additionally, we have also offered assistance to those whose lives have been affected apart by criminal charges and court cases.

In 2013, we ran a local candidate in the Govan Council by-election. Our intention was to highlight the issue in the local constituency of the now First Minister to ensure our concerns were not to be ignored.

In 2014, we released a single in association with the Irish Brigade, the well known Irish ballad ‘Roll of Honour’. This song has fallen foul of OFAB and the success of our campaign clearly demonstrated a resilience within the Celtic support to stand up to the repression of football fan's rights to express a political opinion or to celebrate their heritage. The song reached number 33 in the UK official singles chart and a clip of it was played live on national radio. This particular campaign helped to highlight the absurdity of the legislation and ultimately to undermine it. It made the point that this song could be played on the radio, causing no harm to anyone, yet any fan caught listening to the radio en route home from that day's match could theoretically have faced arrest.

We also lead an email campaign which successfully brought the Act back into the justice committee as we pushed for an early review in 2014, which we were unfortunately not granted. We had hoped that if we were given the opportunity to present evidence to the Justice Committee, we would have been able to make our case that this Act is unreasonable and unworkable and it is regrettable that we were not given this opportunity.

We have continued to challenge the Government's position on the Act as well as the way in which it has been policed. Since the publication of the report carried out by The University of Stirling and several opinion polls by the Scottish Government, we have challenged these findings and we fundamentally do not believe that this has constituted the full and comprehensive review that is in the public interest. This process did not allow for groups such as ourselves and other stakeholders to adequately critique this legislation through our own analysis and evidence.

Recent protests calling for the repeal of this Act have taken place at various football grounds across the country, some of which have been orchestrated by rival fan groups, highlighting the importance of the issue at hand.

FAC launched our petition in summer of 2015 and would now like to submit this to the Scottish Parliament. We are also currently supporting a series of legal challenges to important cases and we will continue to hold protests at selected grounds.  Recently we have made numerous successful complaints against individual police officers and their behaviour towards football supporters.

Since the introduction of the legislation we have also maintained our own records of those who have been charged as a result of this and would like the opportunity to submit our own evidence in full.

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