Why Irvine Welsh is wrong about football and rugby fans

Irvine Welsh pictured before an event at Leith's Biscuit Factory to introduce his new novel Dead Men's Trousers.
Irvine Welsh pictured before an event at Leith's Biscuit Factory to introduce his new novel Dead Men's Trousers.
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Six Nations rugby weekends are big events in Edinburgh.

Not only do they offer a regular chance to see world class sport in the Capital, they change the atmosphere across the city on match days. There is a buzz in the air from the moment fans start to gather in anticipation and a party atmosphere in many pubs late into the night.

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The tournament was estimated to be worth £52 million a year to the Scottish economy in a 2014 report by RBS. A significant part of that is handed over in bars by fans before and after the game or watching on pub TVs. Inevitably when so much alcohol is being consumed by so many people there will be some bad behaviour. However, the atmosphere is, by and large, friendly, peaceful and non-confrontational.

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It is, sadly, very different to that surrounding many football matches.

Irvine Welsh has waded into the old argument about the different way rugby and football supporters are treated- arguing, essentially, that the former getaway with yobbish behaviour because they’re posh. The policing and stewarding of football has been too heavy-handed at times. But the behaviour of a minority of football fans - abusive chants, wanton violence, etc - still demands different handling than rugby where fans can mix freely without trouble.