THEY’RE not real fans. A no doubt well-meaning, but ultimately damaging cliché in football’s fight against racism.

For the Rangers fans who racially abused Kyogo Furuhashi were certainly real fans. They had managed to get tickets for an away game against Ross County. A couple had pulled on their new Rangers third kits (RRP £65). They set off at an ungodly hour on Sunday morning to make the eight-hour or so round trip to Dingwall and back.

It is far too easy - and dishonest - to dismiss such incidents as the responsibility of idiots on the fringes of any fanbase. Isn’t it incumbent upon Scottish football to take ownership of the Neanderthals who are undoubtedly among us and face them down?

To Rangers’ credit, they have certainly done that, taking appropriately severe and swift action against not only the individuals involved, but the supporters’ bus as a collective, who will no longer be eligible to receive tickets for matches.

I have seen it argued that the punishment meted out to the bus as a whole was harsh, with those not taking part in the racist singing being unfairly penalised by deign of flying with the crows and being shot with them. But consider how comfortable the offenders were in their environment to not only belt out such bile, but also to film it and post it on the internet. Seemingly unaware it would then be viewable to the whole world, and not just the like narrow-minded.

There is an argument that standing up to these idiots might land you a sore face for your troubles, but Rangers had to send out a clear signal that not only will the perpetrators of racism be dealt with in the severest of terms, but so too would their enablers.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou was right when he said that this is not about education. Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong when it comes to racism, and too often we make excuses for those who think this sort of thing is just a bit of a laugh.

Well, there can be no more room for ambiguity. Every fan in the land now knows that there will be zero tolerance of racist language, and of the environments that foster it. If that means a bus-full of your mates being let down to hammer home that message, then that’s on you, not Rangers nor any other club.

Still now though, among the widespread condemnation of these Rangers supporters from their own and from other football fans across the board, there is a prominent spattering of whataboutery, with examples of other racist incidents from opposition supports being cast up in a presumed attempt to drag people off their high horses and down to the level of the apologists.

When Glen Kamara was racially abused on the field while playing for Rangers, it felt like a watershed moment, with the vast majority of people disgusted by the actions of Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela. The racist abuse of Furuhashi has provoked similarly extensive outrage.

But there are still fans on social media who are disbelieving of Kamara and simultaneously appalled on behalf of Furuhashi, or supportive of Kamara while laughing off the abuse of Furuhashi because of where their football allegiances lie.

This isn’t about the team you support. It’s first and foremost about the individuals affected, and it is also very much about how we want others to see us. Because while this particular incident may only involve a few morons on a bus, the reverberations are far-reaching.

I was contacted this week by a Japanese television programme to contribute to a lengthy news report they were featuring on the video of the Rangers fans, and it was clear that the producers I spoke to were not only offended by the footage, but dumbfounded that this was the way some people in 21st century Scotland behave.

My initial reaction was to be defensive of Scottish football fans in general, and of society here as a whole. It was a minority of people behaving in this manner. The vast majority of people have been outraged by the video. Both of these things are true, but they are also handy sops to absolve the ‘right-thinking’ among us of any responsibility.

Instead, we must resist these comfort blankets and the cosy exceptionalism that is often prevalent in how we perceive ourselves, as if racism in all its forms is somehow the preserve of little Englanders and not the broad-minded Scots.

Football may well be a mirror of society, or often an amplifier for the worst aspects of it, but it also has within its power an opportunity to impact society positively. Which is why the actions of Rangers in dealing with their own fans who stepped out of line in this manner was wholly appropriate, and sends out the clear message; you can be a racist or you can be welcome at games. Not both. The choice is yours.

These people don’t represent Rangers? They don’t represent Scottish football? They don’t represent Scotland? Fairly or not, you better believe they do. They can no longer be allowed to.