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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Irish FA condemn anti-Catholic chant, warn perpetrators they could be banned

Northern Ireland football fans that were recorded on video singing an anti-Catholic song will be banned from attending future fixtures, the sport’s governing body has said.

The Irish Football Association (IFA) condemned the 20-second video, which was circulated on social media and shows people – some wearing Northern Ireland football jerseys – singing “we hate Catholics” to the tune of I Think We’re Alone Now, a track made famous by 80s pop star Tiffany after her 1987 cover became a number one hit.

It is believed the video was taken in a bar in Belfast on Sunday 24th March, according to the BBC. Northern Ireland beat Belarus 2-1 in a Euro 2020 qualifier in Belfast on the same day, however, it is not clear if the video was taken before or after the game.

In an initial Twitter response, the IFA said: ‘This is utterly wrong and we condemn sectarianism in any form.’

The association went on to release a further statement, confirming that it will work to ensure that those involved are banned from getting tickets to any future Northern Ireland matches.

‘The Irish FA condemns sectarianism of any kind,’ it said.

‘The chanting in the video was wrong and if those involved can be identified, the association will work to ensure that they are prevented from getting tickets for Northern Ireland matches.’

Meanwhile, a football club based in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, issued an apology ‘to the Catholic community for the obvious offence caused’.

In a statement published on Facebook, Killen Rangers FC said they wanted to address the video as a club, explaining that members of Killen Rangers were present in Belfast for the match.

‘Sectarian chanting is clearly audible and we wish to firstly condemn this behaviour without hesitation,’ the club said.

‘Such despicable antics have no place in sport, in society or indeed in life. Those who know us or who have had any dealings with our club will be aware that we have been doing everything in our power for the best part of a decade now to make our club more attractive to all sides of the local community. This work is ongoing and we have no intention to withdraw from this pathway due to a minority of individuals who really should have known better.’

Killen Rangers said they would ‘meet and address’ the matter in line with its club policies and constitution.

‘If disciplinary action is deemed appropriate then the necessary sanctions will be taken without hesitation,’ the statement added.

‘As a club we wish to unreservedly apologise to the Catholic community for the obvious offence caused, and again emphasise that this incident goes completely against the ethos of our club.’

Picture: An Irish Football Association plaque. (Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport).