Thursday, February 12, 2015

12 February 2006 - Celtic's Holy Goalie

On 12 February 2006, just before the start of the second half of an Old Firm match at Ibrox, Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc sparked controversy by directing three gestures toward the Rangers supporters--gestures described by Scotland's Sunday Herald as "a V sign, another obscene gesture, and a blessing."

While generally considered innocuous, the blessing--which consisted of Boruc making the sign of the cross on himself--took on added significance due to the sectarian history of the Old Firm rivalry, with a line separating traditionally Protestant Rangers from traditionally Catholic Celtic. The Rangers supporters thus interpreted Boruc's gesture as a nod to that religious divide, claiming also that he was laughing at them and provoking them with other gestures as well.

For his part, Boruc, a devout Catholic, denied any ill intent, claiming that the blessing was simply a personal gesture in honor of his faith. Whatever the motivation, Boruc caused enough commotion in the crowd to require intervention from police and stadium security, who took 10 minutes to restore order.

Contrary to rumors following the incident, the keeper was not charged with any criminal act for making the sign of the cross, though the government did caution him against any future actions that could be deemed provacative. They made clear, however, that the caution was for the overall nature of his actions, not the blessing itself.

Celtic went on to win the match 1-0 on their way to their 40th League title.

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