In Depth

Celtic’s Bolingoli and the Aberdeen eight ‘a disgrace’ to Scottish football

Nicola Sturgeon issues a ‘yellow card’ after players break coronavirus safety rules

Scottish football’s 2020-21 season is only a few weeks old, but there are already fears the new campaign could be suspended after Aberdeen and Celtic players were caught breaching coronavirus lockdown and self-isolation rules.

Three matches involving the clubs have been postponed after Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli flew to Spain, failed to quarantine, then played in a match, the BBC reports. This came after eight Aberdeen players broke lockdown regulations by visiting a bar together and two contracted the coronavirus

Tonight’s Aberdeen vs. Hamilton Academical and St Mirren vs. Celtic games are off as well as Saturday’s clash between Aberdeen and Celtic.

In a statement, Joint Response Group chair and Scottish FA president Rod Petrie said: “While the decision to postpone these games is deeply regrettable nevertheless in the circumstances it is unavoidable and uncontestable. 

“The JRG members were astounded to learn of the recklessness demonstrated by Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo in his breach of government public health guidance and football protocols.

“That this comes on the back of eight Aberdeen players showing similar disregard for public health is disrespectful not just to every football team-mate, fellow player and colleague but also to every fan in this country. It is also hugely damaging to the image, reputation and sustainability of the game.”

‘Next time, it’s the red’

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that the season could be shut down, says The Guardian. She issued a “yellow card” to Scottish football and said “next time it will be the red”. 

Speaking at her daily media briefing yesterday, Sturgeon said: “Some football players seem incapable of living up to their responsibilities. I very much regret that. This is just not acceptable.

“Every day I stand here asking members of the public to make huge sacrifices in how they live their lives and the vast majority are doing that, and it’s not easy. We can’t have privileged football players just decide they’re not going to bother. So this can’t go on.

“Let me put this as clearly as I can in language that the football world will understand: consider today to be the yellow card. The next time it will be the red card, because you will leave us with absolutely no choice.”

Bolingoli ‘betrayed’ Celtic

Celtic manager Neil Lennon admits he is livid with Bolingoli and says the Belgian has betrayed the club. 

“We have been bitterly and sorely let down,” said Lennon. “The players are angry, disappointed and frustrated. The selfish actions of the individual is baffling. I am livid, it was a total betrayal of trust.”

The Scottish champions condemned the player and said: “Celtic Football Club unreservedly condemns and apologises for the behaviour of the player Boli Bolingoli in travelling to Spain without informing the club and in failing to observe quarantine restrictions.

“It is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible action in current circumstances and we find it beyond explanation. The club will take immediate action through our own disciplinary procedures. 

“All of our playing and backroom staff have been tested twice for Covid-19 since this incident and all, including the player in question, have tested negative. While this comes as a relief to all concerned, it in no way diminishes the seriousness or stupidity of the player’s actions.”

Kick in the teeth 

The Times reports that Scottish football’s top brass have warned the future of the game is “in peril” following the latest breach of public health guidelines.

Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) chief executive Neil Doncaster has criticised Bolingoli and the Aberdeen players. He said: “We have only been able to restart matches thanks to the enormous efforts and sacrifices of literally thousands of people across the Scottish game. For anyone to put that in jeopardy in such a thoughtless and selfish manner is just beyond belief.

“The vast majority of players and officials who have strictly observed the necessary restrictions will rightly see this as a real kick in the teeth. 

“Everyone knows that this season’s fixture schedule is already horrendously tight without having to reschedule matches because of the irresponsible actions of a handful of players.”

‘Halfwits are a disgrace’ 

Writing a comment piece in The Scottish Sun, Bill Leckie has slammed Bolingoli and the Aberdeen eight.

“They’ll go down in infamy as the halfwits who really did get fitba stopped,” he wrote. “Boli Bolingoli. Jonny Hayes. Scott McKenna. Craig Bryson. Sam Cosgrove. Michael Devlin. Dylan McGeouch. Bruce Anderson. Matty Kennedy.

“The arrogant, ignorant few who spat in the faces of the many - every fellow pro who’s been living like a monk, every chairman toiling to pay their wages during a pandemic, every fan who’s tried to help their club by stumping up for a season ticket they can’t get to use.

“Each one of them is a disgrace to their clubs and to their profession.”

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