Celtic Fans Protest New Chairman John Reid as War Ciminal

Radovan KaradžićWho wants a “war criminal” running their club? Not Celtic supporters, as the BBC reports.

Celtic’s new chairman John Reid has been branded “a war criminal” over his role in the Iraq conflict – during the club’s annual general meeting.

Dr Reid, 60, was a senior member of the cabinet at the time of the invasion by British and American forces in 2003.

The BBC choose to focus on the political aspect of the Trust’s opposition (I’m not sure who actually said the words “war criminal” that they quote in the headline), but if one reads their actual voting recommendation on the issue, they state that was just one of three reasons for doing so.

At today’s meeting Trust members took the view that Dr Reid’s nomination reflected:

  • a preference to seek a candidate from the same narrow pool of candidates of business people and politicians from which the boards of all large football clubs are populated, and that a more broadly representative candidate would have been preferable,
  • that there were questions, raised in the media and elsewhere, regarding his degree of independence from one major shareholder,
  • that he is widely associated in the public mind with political controversy in particular, in relation to his position as Minister for Defence during the war in Iraq.

The BBC article, interestingly, also fails to relate some of the other controversial aspects of Reid’s past, including his friendship with Radovan Karadžić in the 1990s — Karadžić was later indicted as a war criminal himself. So whether Reid is or isn’t one himself, it’s fair to say he’s far from a politically neutral figure.

In the international arena, Reid, during his drinking days, fell into bad company in the Balkans with the Bosnian Serb mass-murderer Radovan Karadzic, who tops The Hague’s International War Crimes Tribunal list of wanted men. Reid has admitted spending three days in 1993 at a luxury Geneva lakeside hotel as a guest of Karadzic. “He used to talk to Karadzic, he admired Karadzic. He mistook the Bosnian Serb project as the inheritor of the united Communist ideal,” says Brendan Simms, a Cambridge academic and author of Unfinest Hour: Britain And The Destruction of Bosnia.

So, another man with a murky past joins the ranks of those running British football. Which reminds me, I’ll have more here later today on Alisher Usmanov and Craig Murray.

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