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Dean Shiels Abuse Isn’t Right And Shouldn’t Be Tolerated

Date: 9th January 2018

By Scott Johnston, Editor of The Footy Blog & DP for Full Time Films.

I couldn’t believe reports of Falkirk fans throwing fake eyeballs onto the field as The Bairns faced Dunfermline Athletic at East End Park on the first round of Championship fixtures in 2018.

It was a disgraceful gesture aimed at Pars forward Dean Shiels. For anyone who doesn’t know Shiels lost sight in one during his childhood and he had the damaged eye removed in 2006.

It’s not big nor is it clever to abuse someone because of their disability.

Earlier in the season, Falkirk players Kevin O’Hara and Joe McKee were both suspended after an altercation with Shiels. O’Hara was given an eight game ban due for abusing the player because of his disability, while McKee was on the receiving end of a four game ban for ‘excessive misconduct’.

After the event, Falkirk boss Paul Hartley stated:

“We know he (O’Hara) made a mistake, but we’re disappointed in the length of the ban.”

Tell me anybody in football who hasn’t made a mistake?”

 We understand the situation, but he is going to miss a lot of football and he’s not a bad kid.”

That quote set the tone for me, Hartley admits his player was wrong but then goes on to say the punishment was harsh.

It wasn’t and Falkirk should have accepted it without comment, unless it was to apologise for the abuse that took place.

Put it this way, if O’Hara had done it on the street he’d have committed a disability hate crime, which could come with tough punishment due to the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009. So let’s not say it was harsh in anyway.

By trying to state the punishment was unjust, you are handing ammunition to your support who will fall in line with their manager.

The there’s the supporters, and not just from Falkirk, that come onto social media who state Dean deserved it, that it was just banter or what about what gets done to us?

It’s all rubbish.

When someone suffers from a disability or a life long illness, they come with more insecurities and complications. They will be reminded of their issues everyday, without the need of unwarranted abuse.

I know this to be true because I’ve been a Type One Diabetic since the age of six. Having a long-term condition or a disability brings dreaded bouts of depression and plenty of questioning.

That’s why it isn’t just just good craic when you abuse a man because he lost his eye.

Bringing in fake eyeballs, to throw onto the field of play, is a premeditated action. Thus it should be a criminal matter and those that committed the act need to be weeded out and driven away from our game.

Falkirk have since apologised to Dean Shiels for the actions of their support and have stated their intention to help Dunfermline to find out who was responsible. We need to see actions follow those words and we need to see the guilty locked out of our football grounds.

It has happened to Dean Shiels before and unfortunately it will probably happen again but the biggest deterrent is that we have the conviction to name, shame and punish those that find it acceptable to abuse someone because they have a disability.

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