EVERYONE accepts banter between rival football fans is part and parcel of the game.
But when this banter descends into foul-mouthed abuse or worse then it is simply unacceptable.
The authorities and clubs are working hard to tackle the issue but it is the fans themselves who must drive the change and set an example, especially for young supporters.
Which is what makes today’s story of the four-year-old Hearts fan pictured holding an abusive sign when his team visited Easter Road so shocking.
He clearly did not come up with the idea himself and – you would hope – does not even have such words in his vocabulary.
He may still be blissfully unaware of what the sign said.
But even if this was meant as a light-hearted joke, it is symptomatic of much that is wrong with our game.
Youngsters need to be taught to enjoy the experience of going to a football game, the thrill of supporting their team and, often, the agony of defeat.
What they don’t need to be taught is how to spend 90 minutes simply abusing their rivals.
If the fans involved concentrated a bit more on supporting their side, the beautiful game may just start living up to its name.
Vote now on school
There is no doubt that a lot of misleading information has been circulated about plans to build a new high school on Portobello Park.
That is perhaps a sign of how high passions are running when it comes to this debate.
What is indisputable is that building on the park will create the best possible school for 1300 pupils from across the east of Edinburgh.
Much of the green space that will be lost will be replaced by creating a new park on the old school site.
No-one is pretending that this is a perfect solution – but in the view of this newspaper it is certainly the best one.
It is not, however, up to us to rule whether this long-awaited project gets the go-ahead.
That is now down to the Scottish Parliament who must decide whether or not to grant an exception to historic Common Good Land restrictions on building on Portobello Park. In making their decision, MSPs will no doubt be greatly influenced by the views of the local community.
The public consultation on the council’s plans ends tomorrow.
What is important now is that everyone who has an interest – whether they agree with us or not – makes their voice heard.