Neil Lennon is considering his future as Hibernian manager over what he described as “racism” after he appeared to be hit by a coin during the Edinburgh derby.
Former Northern Ireland international Lennon was struck towards the end of Wednesday’s Scottish Premier League game between Hibs and leaders Hearts at Tynecastle.
Police arrested five people over incidents at the match, with both assistant referees also seemingly hit by missiles, while Hearts manager Craig Levein said his goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal was hit by a supporter.
“I thought about walking away when I was manager of Celtic,” Lennon said at a news conference on Friday.
“Again, with all the furore and the empty vessels talking after Wednesday – people spouting opinions and totally getting the wrong end of things, I may reconsider my position again.
“I had a career in England unblemished by this sort of stuff. I had two years at Bolton – again, no abuse, no attacks, no suspensions or anything like that. And as soon as I’ve come back to Scotland it’s started to rear its ugly head again.
“You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism. If a black man is abused, you’re not just abusing the colour of his skin – you’re abusing his culture, heritage, his background.
“It’s the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier. These people have a sense of entitlement, or a superiority complex, and all I do is stand up for myself.
“Pretty poor, all this, ‘I was goading people, I brought it on myself.’ There was an effigy outside Tynecastle saying, ‘Hang Neil Lennon’ – that was before the game.
“Did I bring that on myself? You’re [the media] all saying no, because you’re right-minded people, you’re decent people. So this has got to stop. Everyone says I play the victim – I don’t.”
Edinburgh Derby ends in a draw
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— SPFL (@spfl) November 1, 2018
While Lennon managed Celtic in 2012, two men were jailed after sending him suspect packages, and the 47-year-old called for attitudes towards him to change.
“People will be blinkered and say, ‘it’s his fault, he’s aggressive’. I’m reactive,” added Lennon. “When I step in the stadium, they’re already up to fever pitch because I’m in there.
“This is the mentality that needs to change. It’s embarrassing. It makes me very angry. But I’m just one person, so I need more people to come out and call it as it really is. I’m fed up of laughing it off and shoving it aside.
“Every week we hear the songs at stadiums – that’s got to be stomped out. People don’t want to do it, saying we can’t do anything about it – you can, if you really want to.
“I’m not the only one to suffer from sectarian abuse, plenty of people at Rangers suffer from it too and I think it’s disgusting in this day and age. It’s racism. Sometimes it’s worse here than it is back home [in Northern Ireland].
“The sooner we get the people caught, punished severely, embarrassed publicly, then it might deter other people from thinking the same way.”
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