England fans warned against singing anti-IRA songs at Wembley by Roy Hodgson
The Three Lions will be playing Ireland for the first time since 1995
England fans have been warned about singing anti-IRA songs when the Three Lions take on the Republic of Ireland at Wembley next week.
The England manager, Roy Hodgson, says doing so could damage their reputation across the country according to The Evening Standard.
The friendly at Wembley next Wednesday will be the first meeting between the sides since February 1995, when a pre-planned riot by England fans prompted the abandonment of a fixture at Lansdowne Road after just 27 minutes.
The chant of “No Surrender [to the IRA]” has been heard at several England matches this season and the Football Association are mindful of any politically charged singing at a fixture arranged to celebrate the organisation’s 150 anniversary year.
Although Fifa declared the FA had no case to answer over claims of “bonfire” chants by England supporters aimed at Rio and Anton Ferdinand during March’s World Cup qualifier in Montenegro, there is unease at the possibility of another unsavoury incident that could result in a range of possible punishments.
The Metropolitan Police cannot arrest anyone singing “No Surrender” as it is not a criminal offence but Article 3 of the Fifa statues states: “Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”
Sanctions range from a fine of 30,000 Swiss francs (£20,352) to the offending country being forced to play a match behind closed doors.
In a bid to avoid the controversy, every ticket holder will receive an email from Hodgson next Tuesday with the England manager also penning a personal plea in the programme notes for the game.
In those notes, Hodgson says: “As we welcome our Irish neighbours and look to Scotland returning to Wembley in August for the first time in 13 years, it is important for me to talk about respect.
“In my time as England manager the support this team has received at home and abroad has been nothing short of fantastic. I have been taken aback by the sheer scale of passion and commitment our supporters have shown.
“Long before I came into the job I knew that the behaviour and reputation of England fans has developed into something we all should be very proud of. World Cups in South Africa and Germany in the last decade are shining examples of this.
“So I hope everyone who follows England understands that position has been built by many fans over a long period of time and sadly it can be undone very quickly by a minority.
“As much as we all want to win, respect for the game and for our opponents is paramount. Tonight is no different and I strongly urge everyone in the ground to show each other respect and not to chant songs that could be regarded as insulting to others - particularly from a religious or political perspective.
“I hope everyone bears that in mind tonight, and every time we come to support our national team.”
Hodgson’s preparations have been compromised by end of season tours involving players from Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City but despite England’s double header – they play Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday week – coming at the end of a long domestic season, the 65-year-old stressed the importance of the chance to work with his players.
“These fixtures are part of The FA’s 150 anniversary celebrations and some have used the word ‘friendly' to describe these matches,” he said. “However, in my book there is no such thing - these are crucial preparation matches for the qualification games.
“The players share this attitude with me. Every time you step out for your country you face competition and expectation: From the supporters who care passionately, from your teammates, from your family and friends and from within yourself.
“We have one or two younger faces involved this time around and it’s important for me to assess them during this get together. This process is important for the long term future of the national team.”
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