Gibraltar is ours. We are certain and clear on our position as Gibraltarians (not Gibraltans as some of the UK media insist on calling us).
Yes, we need all the support we can get. No, it doesn’t have to be, or neither do we want it, linked to any sort of violence or shameful behaviour.
Last week Leicester City fans were involved in clashes with Spanish police ahead of their Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid. Videos during the unrest showed fans hurling cans at riot police. Others accused the Spanish police of overreacting and it’s been alleged police officers were involved in unprovoked attacks on civilians.
They were ugly scenes which we have seen before. They are not the first and won’t be the last surrounding a football match.
BBC presenter Gary Lineker, himself a Leicester City fan and former Foxes player said on Twitter: “Just saw the footage of some Leicester fans behaving despicably in Madrid. The few idiots ruin it for the decent majority. Sickening.”
What has been very different this time is the reporting of it. All of a sudden there was a small new angle which was picked up by numerous news outlets.
Leicester fans chanted ‘Gibraltar is ours’ together with a number of expletives as they clashed with police in Madrid.
The ‘Gibraltar is Ours’ became a strapline in news bulletins on radio and TV in the UK. It may not have been what caused the riot but some reporting may have left it open to interpretation that this was the case – particularly in Spain.
One Spanish TV Channel opened its evening news reporting about the Gibraltar related chants in its headlines, but when it came to the actual report there was no mention of the Rock. Whether on purpose or not it gave the impression, like other reports, that the Gibraltar issue may have contributed to the ugly scenes.
Had this incident happened in exactly the same way but before Gibraltar was propelled into the international spotlight as a result of Brexit the Gibraltar line would probably not have featured anywhere, certainly not as prominent as it did.
I have watched a number of videos from the incident. I can only find one where the Gibraltar chant is clearly audible, and it does strike me as just a few voices, not the majority.
It may be a reflection of how high on the agenda Gibraltar has been. Everyone seems to understand how it annoys Spain. But, we must never allow our genuine cause to be overshadowed by condoning any sort of violence.
As the Chief Minister tweeted: “This behaviour is not helpful to #Gibraltar or its just cause. I condemn it on behalf of all the peaceful people of Gibraltar.”
I totally agree with Fabian Picardo. We must continue to fight our corner rejecting Spain’s stance on Gibraltar, and its obsession, with coherent arguments put forward with decorum. We are not the attackers. We are the victims in this battle and our position needs to be made clear for the world to understand.
We must always be on the side of truth, peace and dialogue. To have our message shouted out in this manner (whether we agree with it or not is immaterial) is nothing to be proud of.
And, whilst we are at it perhaps someone should remind the football fans shouting, and everyone else, that Gibraltar belongs to the people of Gibraltar and is neither Spain’s to claim nor Britain’s to give away.