Celtic footballer convicted for crossing Rangers fans

The Polish goalkeeper for Glasgow Celtic soccer team has been given an official police warning that counts as a criminal conviction for allegedly provocative behaviour by making the sign of the cross during a tense match with rival team Rangers.

The Times reports that the Catholic soccer player who blessed himself during a match last February has been cautioned by police after it was decided his behaviour had been provocative and had led to crowd trouble.

Fans complained after Artur Boruc (pictured) crossed himself during a derby with arch-rivals Rangers at Ibrox stadium, Rangers' home ground in Glasgow.

Traditionally, Celtic is perceived as a Catholic club while Rangers is seen as Protestant.

Mr Boruc who is a practising Catholic says he has always made such gestures while playing.

After an investigation by the procurator fiscal, the Scottish crown prosecutor, it was decided that Mr Boruc's behaviour provoked alarm and crowd trouble and constituted a breach of the peace, but not one serious enough to warrant court action.

The decision, which leaves Mr Boruc with a criminal record, was condemned by religious leaders.

"The sign of the cross is globally accepted as a gesture of religious reverence," said Peter Kearney, spokesperson the Catholic church in Scotland.

Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National party, said he would be demanding an explanation from the procurator fiscal service.

"Crossing yourself cannot possibly be considered a breach of the peace," he said. "It is ludicrous."

However the Rangers Supporters' Group said it was disappointed the player had not been disciplined by his club.

Footballer is cautioned for blessing himself (The Times, 27/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Celtic Football Club
Celtic F.C. (Wikipedia)
Rangers Football Club
Rangers F.C. (Wikipedia)

28 Aug 2006