Just a joke?


By Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

Controversial Scottish referee Chief Hugh Dallas sent a sectarian email “joke” last September on the day of the Pope’s visit to Britain.

The joke has a picture depicting a children beware road sign with the added words “ Pope is coming”.

The email was Scottish FA sent from Mr.Dallas’ official email address it was a reply to an email entitled “FIFA nomination.

It was sent on 16/09/2010, the day of the Pope’s visit to the UK.

The original email was sent to Hugh Dallas’ official SFA email. The email was entitled “FIFA NOMINATION”.
The reply sent at 10.55am, which had no text in it, had a jpeg attachment called “popeiscoming”.
The image depicted a red triangle caution road sign with an adult holding a child’s hand.
Under the “Caution” there was a hand written sign affixed saying, “Pope is coming.”
The clear implication of this “joke” was that His Holiness The Pope is, somehow a danger to children.
This news comes at a time when Dallas is embroiled in a controversy with Celtic FC about the amount of referring decisions that the Parkhead club have claimed that have went against them over the last two years.
Dallas’ view is that these decisions are “Honest Mistakes” and that every team has reason to gripe about referring decisions from time to time.
Last season Celtic sent a DVD of 30 refereeing decisions to the SFA claiming that this was proof that the referees were biased against the club.
The refereeing issue has come to the fore in the last few weeks after it was disclosed that referee Dougie McDonald and Assistant referee Steven Craven had lied post match to Celtic manager Neil Lennon about a decision not to give the Parkhead club a penalty.
Dallas himself was involved in a stormy Old Firm match at Celtic park in May 1999.
When he was hit by a coin by a Celtic fan. Bleeding from the head wound caused by the coin Dallas had to be treated and the match stopped for several minutes.
This revelation that on the day of the Pope’s visit the SFA’s head of “Referee Development” was sending a sectarian image linking His Holiness the Pope to paedophilia will only fuel concerns among the mainly Catholic Celtic support that officialdom in Scottish soccer is hostile to the club because of the its Irish Catholic heritage.
I contacted the SFA and told them of the existence and content of the email sent from Hugh Dallas’ official email address on the day of the Pope’s state visit to Britain.
The SFA refused to comment about the email.
Despite several attempts by this journalist, including leaving a message on his mobile phone, Mr.Dallas was not available for comment.

62 thoughts on “Just a joke?

  1. Billy

    Does the fact that Dallas thinks that the head of an organisation that has covered up child abuse, since time immemorial, is a contemptuous joke make him a bigot?

    Why does spreading such a ‘joke’ equate with ‘bias’ toward a football club?

    I can understand the followers of such an organisation being embarrassed at the actions of that organisation. Just as one may be embarrassed if their dog pissed on their neighbour’s carpet. But really! Settle down. We know it’s not your fault.

    But why this ‘joke’ is perceived, by some, to be evidence of bias against a football club is puzzling.

    Unless of course…….?

  2. Wuzz


    can everyone please lay off Polar because everytime someone challenges him with an intellectual retort he comes back with pure comedy gold and my spleen and bladder can’t take anymore swishing aboot!!

    To qoute the genius…..”One mans joke is another mans downfall!” OOOh missus nay nay and thrice nay!

  3. Mick

    I await your comments on Zander Diamonds sectarian messages on facebook with interest.

    Sectarianism is not a one way street.

  4. numpty

    So where’s the proof that Dallas didn’t pass on equally-sick jokes about the Queen, or President Obama, or the Prophet Mohammed? Unless there’s any evidence that there was an anti-catholic sentiment behind his actions, then this is absolutely nothing to do with sectarianism whatsoever. The people I know who find sick jokes funny find them funny regardless of target. (And I do know several Roman Catholics who found the exact email Dallas allegedly sent funny enough to pass on themselves.)

    “Last season Celtic sent a DVD of 30 refereeing decisions to the SFA claiming that this was proof that the SFA were biased against the club”.

    Good God, and they wonder why the rest of us think they’re delusionally paranoid. Most other SPL teams in Scotland could point to 30 refereeing decisions in every game against Celtic OR Rangers that would ‘prove’ the SFA were biased towards the pair of them.

    I’m disgusted that Dallas and McDonald have both felt the need to resign primarily due to pressure from a single club. They needed to be sanctioned, undoubtedly, but one guy losing his job for ultimately making a correct decision and another for sending a dodgy email that would have got most of us a slap on the wrist had we been caught doing it doesn’t deserve to end up with two people out of a job.

    The only possible positive is that now that Celtic have claimed two victims with their slavering paranoia, they’re unlikely to be allowed to claim any more, and they’ll realise that actually, they’re just not all that good a team after all.

    1. JDS

      First of all son, your spelling and grammar (or should I say lack of) betrays your ability at being able to conduct an intellectual discussion. However as an act of human charity I shall indulge.

      For the sake of clarity I will deal with your points individually:

      I was not offended by Artur Boruc blessing himself. Blessing yourself is not an offence, many people do it !. Coming to think of it nor am I offended by mosques, the hijab, the Star of David, The Holy Qur’an, The Church of Scotland, The Church of England, The Free Presbyterian Church, homosexuals, heterosexuals, bi-sexual, white men, black men or even Orangemen.

      In fact the only thing that really offends me is man’s intolerance to man……………..POLAR !!

      I am at a loss as to your “based on the lying traditions of man” statement, however if you are an atheist then I respect your position.

      On to your main point:

      Whilst sexual abuse is not exclusive to the Catholic Church (sadly abusers actively try to work in positions of trust just to gain access to the vulnerable………yes convicted abusers have been Ministers, Policemen, Teachers, scout masters and boys brigade leaders to name but a few), it is indeed true that many have suffered at the hands of Catholic priests, something that as a Catholic also deeply offends me. Having said all of this and recognised that the problem of sexual abuse does indeed exist, at no time has His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI ever been implicated in being involved in such criminal behaviour and to suggest otherwise is gratuitously insulting to the Pope, deeply offensive to the Catholic community of Scotland, and an incitement to anti-Catholic sectarianism (bigotry)

      Concerning the attendance of Holy Mass at Bellahouston Park in Scotland, I appreciate your obvious concern at the reduced congregation and I welcome your advice (humble or otherwise) on how we can redress this downturn in human spirituality.

      Finally like everyone else I enjoy a good joke……and you Polar, tick all the boxes.

      PS……..It’s Hugh Dallas !!

  5. robert

    just finished reading these comments,and its bigots like polar are the reasons why sectarian hatrid will allway be alive in scotland;sadly

  6. Polar

    Where you as a practising catholic deeply offended when Atrur Boruc choose to bless himslef (an action from a church based on the lying traditions of man) , 10 feet from the Rangers crowd whilst laughing live on Sky T.V with an incite to cause trouble ….Did you try and get him the sack ?..No ?.This was an a action to cause trouble and maybe even unjure people ..
    People seem to forget who the actual bigots are .The offendd ? …

    Now if the pope had or the church of Rome had no connection to child rape , if it had not been in the media all over the world , if it had not been well documented what had happend in Ireland in recent and for that matter over the last 100 years then maybe there is some sort of hidden agenda .But the fact of the matter is the whole world and sections of the church of Rome are deeply offended by the accussations put upon the church and the pope..The reason there was only 45 thousand people there to see him in Scotland and not the 250 thousand that it was originaly planned for was in my humble opinion mostly down to the fact the church of Rome and the pope are heavinly connected to child rape…But i forgot you are deeply offended by a tasteless joke ….Who is it again you want sacked ?….

  7. JDS

    To: firstminister@scotland.gsi.gov.uk;
    Subject: Mr Hugh Dallas
    Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2010 00:47:30 +0000

    Dear First Minister,

    As a practising Catholic I am deeply offended by the e-mail propagated by Mr Hugh Dallas inferring that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is a paedophile (as reported in the Daily Record 8th November 2010). In this published article it is alleged that the SFA Head of Referee Development sent the e-mail from his official e-mail address within the SFA which I suggest is gross misconduct within any organisation and I refer you to the case of the South Lanarkshire Council workers who were dismissed under similar circumstances. (see attached link http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1088710/Social-workers-sacked-sick-image-paedophile-Gary-Glitter-carrying-child-shopping-bag.html

    In the case of Mr Dallas, his e-mail is not only offensive but it is bigoted in the extreme and must not be laughed off or dismissed as a lack of judgement. On the contrary, this kind of insipid religious attack is a corrosive element within our society and it must be stamped out along with those who sow the seeds.

    I was impressed with your recent attack on sectarian bigotry made only last week in Edinburgh and of your support for the Kick Out Bigotry Campaign. Sadly however this cancer has infected the very corridors of the association which launched that same campaign almost three years ago to the day.

    In the words of the then SFA Chief Executive, Gordon Smith: “It’s time to end religious bigotry, sectarian attitudes and behaviour that tarnish our national sport”

    I would ask that you intervene in this matter and recommend to the SFA that Mr Dallas be removed from his position of influence within the football association.

    Thank you for your on-going support against sectarian bigotry.

    Yours Sincerely,


  8. Polar

    Who said it was anti Roman Catholic ?….If it was about Rangers fans or protestants would we be having the same debate ?…Half the world were having a go at the pope for the abuse and child rape the church and the Irish authorities covered up.It’s a shame that the man does not even need to say a word to be hung drawn and quartered…When Celtic fc had the poppy scandal they said freedom of speach , were is that now ?..Becasue he sent a tasteless joke does not make him a bigot , becasue he supported Rangers does not make him a bogot.None of this means he is biased against Celtic…The only hatred and biased i see is on one side of the fence……

  9. Victor Arbuckle

    It is typical of the debate on sectarianism in Scottish football… Rangers fans attempt to dismiss the issue through reducto ad absurdam.

    However, you would have to be incredibly stupid to not put Dallas’ email in the context of the role of bigotry in Scottish culture and in Scottish football.

    If it was an English referee who sent the email, it would not matter- as the idea of a referee or an SFA official exhibiting bias against a club because its supporters are predominently Catholic is absurd.

    Only a bigot or someone with no experience of west-central Scotland could fail to understand the significance of Hugh Dallas sending an anti-Catholic email.

    The issues of the Church’s issues with child abuse are irrelevant to the question of bias- both conscious and institutional. Hugh Dallas, or any SFA official, sending any e-mail with an anti-Catholic message is simply confirming what many have believed for years.

    There is a higher standard for Scottish public officials- and football officials in particular- to avoid giving the impression of having a religious agenda in their approach to their jobs. It is just a part of Scottish life.

    Sending a defamatory message about the Pope from an SFA email server is at best mind-numbingly stupid and at worst- confirmation of a long held agenda fueled by anti-Catholic bigotry. He simply has to go for the SFA to retain a shred of credibility.

  10. Charles

    The fact that Dallas FORWARDED the e-mail refutes the theory from the SFA ‘insider’ that this could have happened to anyone. If you received an obscene/racist/sectarian/pornographic e-mail you’d surely report it to the authorities, or at the very least delete it! The SFA are full of anti-celtic ethno-religious bigots.

  11. Frank

    Mr.Dallas has shown himself to be anti-pope and the ‘e’ mail is the kind of thing you still see floating around some of the ancient institutions in Scotland.

    It is offensive and it is not the mark of someone expected to develop future referee’s in Scotland.

    The integrity of Scottish Football depends upon Hugh Dallas being asked to resign.

  12. Jim

    Hugh Dallas supported Rangers FC as a boy. He ran his secondary schools Rangers Supporters Club. He runs around in a private registered car sporting his own name and I have saw him jogging around Strathclyde Park with his HD logo on his shirt. I have no issues with any of this but the same man bleats about the invasion of his private life. The coin incident was used to detract from his decision making.

    He would not have revealed the truth about Tannadice and Craven alleges he was threatened not to go to the press and to run with the lies. Stuart Dougal then acted on Radio Clyde to warn Craven that he should remember the people who put him there? A message delivered on Hugh’s behalf. Then he comes clean and threatens legal action. The man is a bigot and the latest ‘e’ mail incident reflects the standard of the man. Get the poison out of the SFA.

  13. Gerry

    If Mr Regan does not sack him for this then it just proves the point that institutionalised bigotry still thrives in Scotland

  14. Polar

    Can i just remind people of Celtic FC camplaining , the head of the church of Rome in Scotland complaining and the MP’s at Westminster banning Rangers fans from siging a nursery ryme at Celtic park…Now one mans joke is another mans downfall…I think the bigots are the ones who actually get annoyed about what other people think or do…

  15. Archie Brown

    Looking forward to reading your next investigative column on the anti British banner displayed at Parkhead on 6 November 2010 set out to desecrate the memory of all who have fallen for the kind of freedoms we have today and of course the follow up by Celtic FC to find and punish those behind it.

  16. kevin toner

    whilst no one can escape the horrendous cover up by the church, i do wonder why perverts only infiltrated the catholic church and no other…..someone else being hiding secrets?

  17. Gerrard

    Whilst I understand the problems that this can cause for Dallas working in his current post, I am having trouble feeling angry about any of this email stuff. Despite being strictly brought up as a catholic, I can only say through my own experience that this church and its rulers are truly rotten to the core. The individual faith of practicing catholics is unquestionable. But the simple fact remains that the ‘company’ of the RCC is an absolutely vile and corrupt establishment. This pope and very likely his predecessors, have PERSONALLY covered up a record of absolute pandemic pedophilia. I feel our energies are so gravely misdirected on this one. ‘Defeat the ruling monster and the rest shall fall.’

  18. Jim Murphy

    I am sorry to say that I have only learned today about the good work that you are doing,my only regret being my late father and brother are not here to enjoy it with me.

  19. James Byrne

    Well done Phil, it comes as no surprise that this man would do something like this though but it is good to see it exposed!

  20. rab

    Excellent reporting, Phil ! This is only a small, but clearly significant, action to prove that certain people in high places of authority, have a downright hatred of Catholicism. These malcontents should be weeded out to allow the decent people among us, irrespective of their faith, to lead the charge for righteousness and honesty. Will this be added to the “honest mistake” list ? This perfunctory act by Mr Dallas should be thoroughly investigated, with the correct decision arrived at to discard yet another member of our society hell bent on dragging Catholicism to the depths. Do people who carry out such vile acts not realise that these actions only serve to make us of the Catholic faith even stronger in our beliefs ? This action by Mr Dallas, coming at a time when suspicion is at an all time high in football, is nothing short of a disgrace, and only serves to prove that bigotry in this small country of ours is also at an all time high.

  21. Mark Kelly

    Well Done Phil

    I really hope this helps to start make the changes required within the SFA and Scotland in general because it is badly needed.

    Thank you

  22. James

    Absolutely outstanding work!!!!

    I just hope that you see this through to the end and not let these bigoted dope’s (or words to that effect) get away with this. Its high time the institutionalised bigots that run our game got told where to go, at long last the celtic faithful have the truth out in the open and there is no-where they can hide

    Thanks again

  23. Craig McGill

    I see everyone’s so worked up as this being proof of Dallas’ sectarianism to actually be upset that it makes light heart of child abuse.

    I wonder how many here would be moaning if the joke had involved Rangers FC and child abuse?

  24. Aidan Donaldson

    Absolutely brilliant piece of work, Phil – and a bit of courage required at this crucial time too. The Jim Traynor/Radio Scotland line ‘do Celtic fans really think that referees and the media get together to conspire…?’ needs to be taken to task. Anti-Catholic sentiment in Scotland (like this part fo my own country) is endemic and (as James MacMillan pointed out) constitutes ‘sleep-walking bigotry.’ At least with the anti-‘Katholic’ bigots who (literally) wear their hatred on their arms you know what you are getting. It is the ‘have-yachts’ of the middle classes (as distinct from the ‘have-nots’) – i.e., those who don’t know that they have a problem – who are the real problem.

    Congrats mo chara,


  25. raymond

    to think passing on a e-mail about the head of the catholic church and the abuse scandal is joke, is crass at the very least and shows that Mr Dallas is anti catholic, but again it’s only a wee joke! sorry can’t see the funny side.

  26. GWG

    Excellent piece of investigating journalism sir
    Keep knocking at the foundations and the whole rotten structure will come down

    Well done from all grateful Celtic Supporters

  27. abhoy

    It’s difficult to believe that someone in Dallas’s position, given the incendiary nature of it, would be as foolish as to create or pass on such an email.

    But if he really did, it would be interesting to see who he felt he trusted well enough to forward such a message to and how many of them, if any, work within the SFA or are referees. That, ultimately, could be the bigger story.

  28. john duffy

    He should be questioned in public and as expected gives the no comment reply =Guilty 2nd question who sent it and who did he forward it too

  29. George

    The lads at my work here in England laugh their heads off at the bias shown by referees towards Rangers, the Dallas ‘joke’ comes as no surprise to me. I expect to see Rangers win the SPL for the foreseeable future,at least until they are out of financial trouble, with a little (or a lot) of help from their friends. I’m sorry to say that Scottish football has become a laughing stock and the heirarchy of the game are to blame.

  30. oxonbhoy

    Awesome work Phil, yet again.

    Keep fighting and dont ever let up on them until institutionalised bigotry is wiped out there and Celtic can finally compete on an equal level.

    Hail, hail!!

  31. Ethel Cardew

    Quotes from a source (i.e. Daryl Broadfoot)
    A source said: “This email is the sort of thing thousands of people either received or sent during the Pope’s visit – rightly or wrongly.
    “But not everyone is the head of refereeing at such a controversial time for match officials.

    “It shouldn’t have happened – it’s horrible. But I can categorically state I’m sure there was absolutely no malice on Hugh’s part.”

    The SFA source added: “I now believe there is a witch-hunt against Hugh – I don’t know why.

    “You can just imagine what’s gone through his head in the last week or so, especially with the rumpus over the Dundee United v Celtic match. I know there will be moral indignation over the email. It was stupid but there was no malevolence in it.”

    Phew – and i thought he was being a bigot!

  32. kitalba

    Already some are claiming it is a witch-hunt. Metaphorically of course; so as long as the man in question is not a witch, metaphorically of course, then he has nothing to worry about.

    Conversely, if the man is a merely a fool who breached the official e-mail protocol by sending offensive materials, then he must pay the price.

    Honest mistakes, honest lies, and now no doubt they will try to claim honest offensive foolishness.

  33. Eddie Hamilton

    Just another derogatry remark towards catholics from the top brass of the SFA, what will come of this?? absolutely nothing, the same thing that has happened now for over a century as they cannot stand everything that Celtic Football Club is about.

  34. Alano

    Phil – good work – trust you have the email?

    It is not astonishing as people who are bigoted, racist and have closed minds are indeed stupid.

    In other news – any update on our gracious Majestys Revenue and Customs case against our other notable bigoted instituition?

    Keep up the fine work.

  35. shaunbhoy

    phil another excellent piece of news on a day a stood in the rain at the corrupt sfa hamDUMP knowing what av known for years about those cheats,liars,bigots. they have in that horrible place and done my team celtic fc out of countless trophies and money a wonder if the scottish media will do a piece on this story. or maybe there will be no more succulent lamb dinners a know what they would rather have simple dallas&co must go right out the door give that place a clear out from the cheats,liars,bigots or there will be more protests on the horizon.

  36. ken rolfe

    well done Phil. You sure unlikely to get this story A 1st in a scottish paper. A 2nd? will now! All the power to you Phil!!

  37. Mark

    Well done for getting this story but personally i dont think anything will come of it. You say in your story about ref decisions the last 2 seasons? this has been going on for years and years!
    Obviously if common sense prevails he’ll lose his job, if he has any dignity he will walk!

  38. Kevin Blair

    Keep up the good work, Phil. If only the journalists in the Scottish Media would investigate these kind of incidents !

    We know that it will never happen as they don’t have the guts to use their journalistic instincts as it’ll upset too many people in this bigoted little backwater. If it wasn’t for you, i would have been totally unaware of this story.

  39. Trishb

    Absolutely shocking and even more shocking that the SFA knew about this yet did nothing. I actually heard about this email when I was at the game today……I hope that the Scottish media do the decent thing and report this in their papers. For Dallas still to be in a job is the biggest joke. I’m absolutely disgusted at this so we can now add this to the fact that Dallas is also an outed liar…..

  40. Adam

    Just another quote to be badied off as a joke, these types of things were tolerated in th USA when joking about Blacks and Irish years ago but not only shunned now but reasons for dissmissal and law suit, when will the Brittish culture catch up with the rest of the world

  41. pablo

    He simply has to go! a no brainer to me.

    Cambell ogilvie to late up peats position as head of the SFA?…
    What was Rangers signing policy when he was in charge?

  42. Gerry

    If this is cast iron and that whole vile organisation isnt cleaned from top to bottom then we should refuse to play another game untill it is.

    Whats the chances of this been swept under the carpet. Be interesting to see the usual apologists squirming to answer this one

  43. Mike

    Tut tut Mr Dallas, looks like the old idiom springs to mind ” Give someone enough rope and he’ll hang himself “


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