Police: Bombs sent to Celtic manager were real
The four parcel bombs sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two
prominent supporters of the Glasgow club were live devices that
could have caused ”significant harm,” police said Wednesday.
The devices were sent in the weeks after a tumultuous match
between Celtic and fierce Glasgow rival Rangers, two clubs with a
history of sectarian conflict. The packages were intercepted before
reaching their targets and did not explode.
Detective chief superintendent John Mitchell of Strathclyde
police said, after initial suspicion that the packages may have
been a hoax, forensic tests showed they were ”viable
”They were definitely capable of causing significant harm and
injury to individuals if they had opened them,” he said.
While police didn’t discuss the motive behind the mail bombs,
sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland and Glasgow are regularly
played out between Celtic fans, who are mostly Catholic, and
Rangers fans, who are mostly Protestant.
The first parcel bomb targeting Lennon, a Catholic from Northern
Ireland, was found on March 4 and a second was intercepted at a
sorting office outside Glasgow on March 26.
Another package destined for Celtic-supporting Scottish lawmaker
Trish Godman was intercepted at her constituency office two days
later. A fourth package destined for Paul McBride, a lawyer who has
represented Lennon, was intercepted earlier this week.
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell condemned the ”repeated
threats and intimidation.”
”It is an intolerable state of affairs which must end,” he
said. ”Celtic, from our inception, has been a club open to all. We
enjoy friendship and respect throughout the world yet, here in
Scotland, we are caught up in these vile events.”
Stewart Regan, the English chief executive of the Scottish
Football Association, said the sport ”must not be used as a
platform for religious intolerance or hatred.”
”As a relative newcomer to this country, I find this recent
situation both depressing and deplorable,” Regan said. ”With the
support of the police, the Scottish Government and our other league
bodies, it is our intention to help rid Scottish football of this
unwanted poison which seems to be prevalent in society.”
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called for a ”renewed
determination that our beautiful game should not be besmirched” by
the latest incidents.
”What is required here is that all people – particularly those
that love the game of football – unite to condemn such actions and
unite to condemn those who abuse football for their pathetic and
dangerous prejudices … that belong in a long and distant past,”
Salmond told the BBC.
UEFA last week hit Rangers with a second charge of
”discriminatory behavior” over its fans’ sectarian chants during
Europa League matches against PSV Eindhoven last month.
UEFA President Michel Platini said Wednesday that soccer has to
work together to solve the problem.
”We will fight against all violence, sectarianism, everything
we will fight,” Platini said during a visit to London. ”Football
is very nice, it’s a beautiful game and you have many beautiful
things. But you have some bad things. As UEFA president you have
take responsibility to look what are the bad things and change the
The news comes just days before Rangers hosts Celtic on Sunday
in the teams’ seventh meeting this season. Rangers are trying to
close a four-point gap on the defending champions at the top of the
Scottish Premier League.
The parcel bombs are the latest in a series of incidents
targeting Lennon and others connected with Celtic.
Packages containing bullets were sent earlier this year to
Lennon and to players Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn, who are also
from Northern Ireland.
The 39-year-old Lennon has endured threats and abuse during his
soccer career – both as a player and a manager.
Lennon quit international soccer in 2002 after having made 39
appearances, saying he had received death threats from a
paramilitary group in Northern Ireland.
AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this