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Online survey of football supporters in Scotland

Football ground
Researchers: Ian Simpson
Published: June 2015

Aim

This project was a review of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. The review was conducted by ScotCen Social Research, the University of Stirling and University of Glasgow.

Findings 

  • Awareness of the Act was high in our fan surveys - at around four in five of all supporters (83% had heard of it in the 2014 survey) and higher still among supporters of Celtic and Rangers.
  • A slight majority of supporters surveyed in 2014 (55%) reported sometimes being offended by things they heard other supporters shouting, chanting or singing, but 50% also agreed that “people go to football matches to let off steam and that what they say should not be taken seriously”.
  • There was broad consensus that it is offensive to sing songs or to make remarks about people's religious background or beliefs (85% agreeing with this statement), or which celebrate the loss of life (90% agreeing), or which support terrorist organisations (82% agreeing).
  • Around a third (28%) of home supporters said they had heard negative reference to a person's religious background during at least one game in the 2013/14 season, higher than the proportion that had heard negative reference to a person’s skin colour (8%), country of origin (19%), gender (10%) or sexuality (19%). 
  • 40% of home supporters felt negative references to religious background were less common in the 2013/14 season than in previous seasons, while only 3% felt they were more common. 56% of supporters felt that the level of negative references to religious background was about the same as in previous seasons. 

Methods 

ScotCen Social Research conducted two online surveys of football supporters, in the summers of 2013 and 2014. The University of Stirling and University of Glasgow carried out qualitative interviews and focus groups with those involved in the implementation and enforcement of the legislation, including Sheriffs, Procurators Fiscal, Police Officers and football club security officials, as well as with football supporters and representatives of supporters groups. Analysis of secondary data sources held by the Crown Office, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland was also undertaken.