Steven Gerrard urges Rangers fans to behave following UEFA punishment
Last Updated: 23/08/19 4:52pm
Steven Gerrard has pleaded with the Rangers support to behave after UEFA ordered a section of Ibrox to be closed during next week's Europa League meeting with Legia Warsaw.
Europe's governing body made the ruling after deciding a number of the club's supporters were guilty of racist behaviour - specifically relating to "sectarian chants" - during their opening qualifier against St Joseph's on July 18.
Rangers will now have to close off a section containing 3,000 seats for the return meeting with Legia Warsaw, after the first-leg finished in a goalless draw on Thursday.
Gerrard has warned fans their global reputation is at risk if they persist with the illicit chants.
"I back the statement that the club has made," he said. "It's disappointing when I think about the effect it's going to have on innocent fans who go to the game and behave properly.
It's disappointing when I think about the effect it's going to have on innocent fans who go to the game and behave properly.
"They are going to miss out on the chance to watch the second leg which is all set up for an incredible match.
"I still think the crowd will be important next week. It's a small section but it's still not helpful.
"We do still want to send a clear message to our supporters that we're going to need them with us in the second leg. We need the stadium to be rocking and jumping because as you saw last night, they are tough opponents.
"We've been here before and I hope it's the last time we have to deal with questions on fan behaviour. We want our fans to go to the games, enjoy it and get behind the team.
"That's what being a fan is all about. We've got one of the best fan bases in the world. They follow us in large numbers home and away and they have got a reputation for being the best supporters in the world.
"So when you hear stuff like this, it damages the fans' reputation."
UEFA confirmed the punishment and added that Rangers must display a banner with the wording "#EqualGame", with the UEFA logo on it, in the closed section.
A club statement from Rangers read: "Our supporters have been asked repeatedly by the club to refrain from indulging in this, and other forms of unacceptable behaviour.
"Sadly, the warnings have fallen on deaf ears and the actions of this minority will cause the club and the majority of good and decent Rangers supporters to pay a heavy penalty.
This is deeply regrettable to all at the club and we hope that the guilty parties, who attracted the attention of UEFA, might reflect on the damage their unacceptable behaviour is causing Rangers and their fellow supporters.
Rangers club statement
Rangers added: "The area, or areas, to be closed will be announced in due course and the club will do its best to restrict the impact to supporters.
"Unfortunately a significant number of supporters, innocent of any wrongdoing, will be unable to attend next week's match.
"This is deeply regrettable to all at the club and we hope that the guilty parties, who attracted the attention of UEFA, might reflect on the damage their unacceptable behaviour is causing Rangers and their fellow supporters.
"If any individual supporter is unable to behave in a civilised manner then please stay away from Ibrox and our club. You are harming Rangers and that is something a genuine supporter would never wish to do."
Rangers were fined 40,000 euros (£36,000) and banned from taking fans to a Champions League qualifier in Malmo after supporters were found guilty of sectarian singing in a 2011 Europa League match at PSV Eindhoven.
The club was also given a three-year suspended sentence that included a total stadium ban should the scenes be repeated.