By a Newsnet reporter
London Olympic chiefs have confirmed that the Scottish flag will not be allowed to be flown over Hampden Park when Olympic football matches are taking place at the stadium.
In a move that is sure to spark controversy, it has emerged that under a contract signed by London with the International Olympic Committee, the Saltire will not be allowed to be flown.
The revelation followed an enquiry by SNP MEP Alyn Smith who was concerned that rules governing the staging of the games would have meant that fans attending football matches would not have been allowed even to wave the Scottish flag.
Organisers were forced to admit that whist fans would be allowed into Hampden with Saltires, that it could not be flown over the stadium.
According to the contract signed by the organisers of the London Games, only the Union flag, the London 2012 flag or the Olympic flag will be allowed to fly over Hampden.
Mr Smith called the rule “ridiculous” and “unacceptable” and said:
“It’s still completely ridiculous and unacceptable that Scotland’s national flag is going to be pulled down from its iconic place flying over Scotland’s national stadium.
“The saltire normally – and quite properly – flies above Hampden 365 days of the year. Forcing it to be taken down in this way will not only anger many home-based supporters, but also disrespects our history and nationhood.”
Mr Smith welcomed the committee’s decision to allow the waving of the Saltire by fans and added:
“I’m naturally pleased that I have managed to pressure the organising committee in London into allowing Scottish games fans to take their national flag in with them.
“Their agreement to give way on this just makes the ban on flying the Saltire over the stadium itself even more farcical. I hope they see this and reverse this decision too. It would cost them nothing but earn them huge respect and goodwill.”
Despite Hampden being chosen to host several football matches, the ticket uptake has been disappointing.
The banning of the national flag from flying over the stadium for the duration of the games will have done little to help promote the events being held in Scotland. Mr Smith said the Saltire ban “had understandably turned people off purchasing tickets for the games”.
Olympic football has already caused controversy after the English FA’s desire for a ‘team GB’ was rejected by the Associations of the other three home nations.
However, despite the official refusals, the English FA has ignored the wishes of the other Associations and included players from the other nations in a proposed ‘Team GB’.