Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

England boss Roy Hodgson's plea to fans: no provocative chants during Wembley game with Republic of Ireland

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England football manager Roy Hodgson will make a personal plea to supporters attending next week’s international against the Republic of Ireland not to sing inflammatory songs about the IRA.

The appeal is being made in an email to fans ahead of the match at Wembley stadium next Wednesday.

It will be the first time the sides have met since the infamous 1995 fixture at Lansdowne Road, which was abandoned after 27 minutes because of crowd trouble.

With the Republic a goal in front, England fans began ripping up seats and throwing missiles. The referee abandoned the game as riot police intervened.

The Wembley friendly has been arranged as part of the English Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations. A return game in Dublin is expected next year.

Officials believe the change in both the football and political landscapes since 1995 has opened up the possibility of the two nations meeting without the threat of a repeat of the violence from 18 years ago.

However, concern remains about home fans singing anti-IRA songs.

The chant of “No surrender to the IRA” has blighted England games in recent years and the FA moved to highlight its concerns.

The chant is not criminal and those singing it cannot be arrested by the Metropolitan Police.

But the FA could be punished by Fifa, world football’s governing body, if fans are heard singing “No Surrender”.

Article 3 of the Fifa statutes states: “‘No Surrender (to the IRA)’ would be deemed deserving of punishment as a form of insult pertaining to the religious and political beliefs of a certain group of people.”

The sides’ last meeting ended in some of the worst football violence seen in years.

English fans ripped up seats and benches to hurl missiles at supporters below, injuring around 20 people. The referee took the teams off the pitch but the hail of missiles intensified and the game was abandoned.

Background

When England and the Republic of Ireland play at Wembley stadium next Wednesday night, it will be the sides’ first meeting since 1995. That match was abandoned after 27 minutes because of rioting by England thugs.

Concerns over security for the game were raised after violent scenes marred Wigan's FA Cup semi-final victory against Millwall at Wembley last month.

There have been fears that London-based Irish fans will buy tickets for the home sections, making it impossible to fully segregate supporters.