Celtic football club have a big decision to make, and on behalf of the hundreds of thousands within the NHS and social care sector who have risked their lives to care for others during the four months of the deadly Covid19 pandemic, they must get it right.
One of their multi-million pound signings last season flagrantly and selfishly disobeyed the club’s instructions and the law. He secretly jumped on a plane to holiday in Spain for twenty four hours after their first game of the season against Hamilton Academical, before sneaking back into Glasgow and the club without informing anyone or socially isolating as required given the prominence of the virus in Spain. The trip was in direct violation of the manager’s instructions. The player in question is twenty-five-year-old Belgian Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo and he should be summarily sacked.
Some will rightly argue that due process has to be allowed to proceed and a full and thorough investigation conducted but by all accounts such an investigation has already taken place and although the player has offered an apology for his stupid and selfish actions it simply isn’t enough.
NHS Workers and Nurses Betrayed by The Tories
Last Saturday I attended a socially distanced protest organised by rank and file NHS workers and nurses who feel betrayed by a Tory government who applauded for them on a weekly basis up until recently but then shunned them in relation to the public sector wages rises they announced last month. There were several such rallies all across the UK. Those public sector workers whose wages are to increase deserve every penny and more, but the nurses and other key NHS and care workers were ignored. One placard on the Glasgow Green protest summed up the disgust felt by hundreds of thousands:
“The NHS is for life not just for Covid”.
“WE CARED FOR YOU BORIS, NOW START CARING FOR THE NHS” #CLAPSDONTPAYBILLS
Bolingoli isn’t a politician and therefore shares no blame for the fact our nurses and NHS workers have been treated so badly by the Tory government but he is a very privileged young man who makes a fantastic living kicking a ball around a football park. It is a profession most young men dream of as the rewards, especially at top clubs like Celtic, are incredible.
Bolingoli’s Weekly Wage Bigger Than Nurses’ Annual Salary
What Bolingoli earns in a week is likely the equivalent of a year’s income for many of the NHS workers who protested in Glasgow on Saturday. These men and women are the frontline of the battle against Covid19. Hundreds of their colleagues have literally died in the line of duty. It is the lack of resources and preparedness by the Tories which is the cause of those unnecessary deaths, not a Celtic footballer but in the midst of such a difficult lockdown fighting the virus the actions of Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, and the eight Aberdeen players who similarly breached the lockdown conditions the weekend before last, are reckless, selfish and life threatening.
Celtic supporters like me are proud of referring to our team as “More Than a Club” and a “Club Like No Other”. We believe in certain values and principles like fair play and combatting poverty and injustice. Celtic Football Club was founded in 1888. Its principal founder was a Marist Brother named Walfrid.
The Club had two principal aims: The first aim was to raise funds to provide food for the poor of the East End of Glasgow, an area of the city that was greatly impoverished and had a high rate of infant mortality. It is therefore a socially conscious club that cannot be oblivious to what is happening in wider society. Failing to sack Bolingoli for his flagrant disregard of club instructions and the law would send out the wrong message.
If low paid NHS workers, nurses and social carers are willing to risk their lives to care and treat others during this pandemic then privileged and pampered footballers who ignore the law and their club instructions deserve to have their lucrative contracts terminated. An issue like this is not just about football and the individual player it is about societal responsibility and standing up to be counted at times of crisis.
Celtic Manager Hurt – The Player Should Be Sacked
Celtic’s next two scheduled football matches have been postponed and their Champions League qualifier next Tuesday evening is now in jeopardy. All because of one player’s irresponsible actions. Sure, he has been tested for covid19, as have the other players, and returned negative results but that misses the point. This guy did not just break the law and endanger his own life he endangered everyone else connected with the club and in the process has brought the club into disrepute. That is a sacking offence all day long. I was vocal in calling for Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings to be sacked for his flagrant disregard of lockdown rules in May. It would be hypocritical not to call for Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo to be sacked now.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon is a compassionate man. He never throws any players under the bus when results don’t go as planned but he is also astute with social conscience. He is absolutely gutted by this incident involving one of his players. His words on the matter today express the depth of disappointment he feels personally with the use of adjective like ‘livid’ and ‘appalled’:
“We gave players a couple of days off after Hamilton. We made it clear to players they were not to leave Glasgow. Boli took flight to Spain on Monday and kept it to himself…. we were livid, appalled”.
His anguish is clear in the video recording of his reaction.
Football is important to fans like me but some issues transcend the game and this Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo incident is about more than football, it is about respect for the NHS, the sacrifice of frontline care workers and the laws designed to protect society as a whole. It is uncomfortable to say it as a Celtic fan but I’m afraid Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo’s mistake here is not forgivable to me. His sacking is justified and would send a message to society that all of us are obliged to obey the lockdown measures and temporary legal restrictions on our freedom of movement for the good of everyone. No one is above the rules or the law. Even a Celtic star.