Portland Timbers Scottish manager John Spencer expressed strong feelings in reaction to Wednesday’s incident in which Celtic manager Neil Lennon was attacked by a fan during a Scottish Premier League match against Hearts.
“It’s embarrassing for Scottish football to be honest with you, and Scottish people in general," Spencer told MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio podcast. “It’s described as a dark day [in Scottish soccer]. I totally agree with that multiplied by 100. It’s absolutely embarrassing that someone has actually taken it so far.”
The Scottish game has been plagued by sectarianism, especially when it comes to the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, the country’s largest clubs, both based in Glasgow. American World Cup midfielder Maurice Edu plays for Rangers.
The 40-year-old Spencer was born in Glasgow and played for Rangers. He also has 14 caps for Scotland’s national team.
“I don’t know why Neil Lennon is so hated in Scottish football,” Spencer told ExtraTime Radio. “He was a great player for Celtic and won a lot of trophies there. That’s crossing the line and it should never, never happen in the world of sports.”
The perpetrator of Wednesday’s attack, John Wilson, was charged in court on Thursday and remains in custody. Hearts have imposed a lifetime ban from the club.
Also on Thursday, police found a bullet sent by mail to the attention of Lennon at Celtic’s training ground. In addition, two men were arrested in connection with mail bombs sent to Lennon which were intercepted in March and April.
“It needs to stop,” Spencer said. “It’s the religion factor with the Catholic and Protestant side of the game, which is a terrible side to the game of Scottish football with Rangers and Celtic. I don’t know how it’s going to stop and I don’t know how we stop this bigotry and the mentality. It’s a sport.”
Spencer is preparing his Timbers side for the big match of the MLS weekend slate against the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field in the first MLS installment of the Cascadia rivalry (11 pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).