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02nd Nov 2018

Neil Lennon hits back at at ‘racist’ abuse in Scotland after coin attack

The Hibs manager was struck by a coin after he taunted Hearts fans when their last minute goal was disallowed in the Edinburgh derby

Reuben Pinder

The Hibs manager was struck by a coin during the Edinburgh derby

Neil Lennon has hit out at his critics after he was hit by a coin during Hibernians’ draw against Hearts on Wednesday night.

The incident occurred as Lennon taunted Hearts fans after their late winner was ruled out for offside.

The Hibs manager has since spoken out against his critics, labelling the abuse he gets as “sectarian” and “racist”, claiming that he is a target due to his Irish Catholic heritage and his playing days at Celtic.

“Some of the comments that have come out afterwards, people should know better, it’s pretty poor – ‘I was goading people’, ‘I bring it on myself’,” Lennon said.

“There’s an effigy outside Tynecastle saying “Hang Neil Lennon”.

“That was before the game, did I bring that on myself? This has got to stop, everyone says I play the victim – I don’t.

“I had 15 years in England of nothing, so the first day I stepped into Scotland, this sort of stuff has begun.

“It’s not because I’m an aggressive character, I’m not aggressive as a person at all.

“I’m competitive, sometimes I cross the line, just like any normal manager. So this, ‘bringing it on himself’, I’m very angry about those comments.

“I’ve been subjected to this for 18 years, I’m 47 and I’m fed up with it.”

Lennon insisted that the abuse he receives is racist, and needs to be taken more seriously.

“I’m the manager of Hibs now and I’m still getting it. Whether that isolated incident (in the derby) is sectarian motivated or not, that effigy outside the ground before the game is sectarian or racist or whatever you want to call it.

“The first time I signed for Celtic there was an effigy saying “Neil Lennon RIP” – that’s do with my association with Celtic and that’s to do with me being an Irish Catholic.

“There’s a problem, it’s a big problem. You all turn your back on it, you all laugh at it, you all brush it aside.

“It’s right there. I keep hearing ‘one Scotland’, the democracy which we are, open to everyone. At times it hasn’t been the case for me.

“I’m a footballer, not a criminal. I’m not going around throwing bricks, stones and bottles at people, I don’t attack people in the streets.

“I’m a football manager, I don’t break the law, I try and do a good job wherever I can, putting on a team who entertain and try to win things.

“I’m competitive yes, but I’m not going to take any nonsense from people – why should I?

“I’m the first one to stand up for myself in a long, long time but there were people before me who were Irish and played for Celtic who took a hell of a lot of abuse as well.

“You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism. If a black man is abused, you are not just abusing the colour of his skin, you are abusing his culture, his heritage, his background. It’s the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier. These people with the sense of entitlement or superiority complex. And all I do is stand up for myself.”