Football,  Scotland

FIFA Public Statements Out-Weirded By Heart of Midlothian

Relatively little was said when Russian oligarchs who made their fortunes during the 1990s under less-than-clear circumstances started buying-up British football clubs, but in cases like Vladimir Romanov’s purchase of Heart of Midlothian FC, the fans were happy and the club’s fortunes turned around.

Players have gone off the rails or committed minor criminal offences, like any bunch of obscenely paid young men imbued with a sense of being Greek gods for their physical prowess are wont to do. That sort of thing happens, and at least the manager of Hibernian FC (Edinburgh’s ‘Catholic’ football club) has not been attacked on the pitch by Hearts fans or been the target of a letter-bomb campaign.

Then, last week, 20 year old defender, Craig Thomson admitted to and was convicted of Internet-related offences involving “lewd and libidinous behavior” towards two girls aged 12 and 14. Although he has avoided a custodial sentence, he has been placed on the sexual offenders register.

From his allocution, he appears to have attributed in part his actions to “possibly wrong outside influence”. The exact details of his offence are not public, but it should be assumed that he was found to have been aware that the girls were or may have been under 16. Despite the misinformation offered from other commenters on related sexual offences legislation, a public interest test is made in the grey area of one or two years above and below the age of consent.

This could just about have covered his conduct towards the 14 year old girl, but patently not that with 12 year old girl. He is no Roman Polanski, like.

I will go with the sentencing judge, and accept that it has been concluded that Thomson presents no further risk of offending. Keep people out of gaol where possible. That is good.

Yet he remains on the roll of the club. Even though he has been removed from the first team, a club which no doubt touts its child-protection policies and responsibilities as a role model has kept him on. As James at Better Nation says, terrace chants from rival teams next season are going to be interesting (although, due to previously rushed anti-sectarianism legislation being removed for further scrutiny, anyone chanting “nonce” should not be risking an arrest for anti-Catholic abuse).

Have a discussion about the catchall nature of “placing on the sexual offenders register” which may belie sliding scale of seriousness for sexual offences by all means, but the club statement which only can have come from Romanov is plain weird. It has to be read in full to appreciate its gobsmackingly extensive smorgasbord of stupidity and casserole of nonsense.

Highlights for me include:

“What’s happening with the club today is not a new thing. For almost 7 years we have been fighting to shield the club from crooks, criminals and thieves. Many of the top players at the club have felt the bitter results of the swindles that have been carried out with them on their own skin. Skacel and Webster have returned to the club after realizing where these ‘football patriots’ have led them.

“Over a short space of time 4 players at our club have been on the wrong end of the law. We note that 3 of them are represented by the same agent – Gary Mackay – who has been so vicious in his attacks against Mr Romanov.

“Taking into account the facts that have been omitted by the media it can be presumed that each of these cases is not a coincidence, but the result of targeted actions of a mafia that wants to manipulate the club and the results.

Mackay is a former Hearts midfielder and now SFA-recognized agent. One of his clients is Hearts left-back, Lee Wallace who was charged with firearms offences in 2009, although these were dropped and he was found guilty of breach of the peace. So, arguably, the Thompson situation is worse as he has been found guilty, regardless of the impenetrable self-pity on display above.

“Mafia are dragging kids into the crime, in order to blackmail and profit on them. It is not possible to separate these people from pedophiles, and you don’t need to do that. Each year we are forced to fight against these maniacs harder and harder. We are standing in their way not letting them manipulate the game of football in the way they want. As such they undermine us in every possible way they can.

“The task of the club is to tear these kids out of hands of criminals.”

A job beckons with FIFA, I think, where he can advize anyone attending the 2018 World Cup to avoid excessive melanin content.