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Glentoran fans in war of words on social media over club appeal to donate cash to refugee crisis

By Linda Stewart

Published 15/09/2015

A woman with her child weeps at the Hungary-Serbia border
A woman with her child weeps at the Hungary-Serbia border

Fans of a Belfast football club have clashed on social media over a charity appeal for refugees.

Glentoran announced on the club's website they would be looking at ways for the club and their supporters to help those caught up in the Europe-wide crisis, and said it was supporting the European Club Association's (ECA) '90 minutes for hope' initiative.

Following a suggestion by FC Porto, the ECA is calling on each participant of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League Group Stage to contribute €1 for each ticket sold during their first European home match.

"As Glentoran is not participating in the group stages the board of directors is exploring available options through which the club and its supporters can contribute to help the position of those caught up in the refugee crisis," a spokesman said. "We know this is what Glentoran supporters would want. An announcement will be made before our next home league game."

They said that as a proud community-based club they were committed to engaging in social causes and giving back to society.

"As such we cannot and will not close our eyes to the dramatic and often tragic scenes currently taking place throughout Europe," the spokesman said.

However, the plan has ignited the ire of some fans, who took to the club's Facebook page to point out that it was not something that all Glentoran supporters wanted.

One fan said "charity begins at home", while another insisted that "people in our own country come first".

Another said UK overseas aid is the highest in the EU and added "Stop trying to look good and take more money off taxpayers".

However, they were rebuked by fellow fans who said it was important to support the continent-wide appeal.

Fan Michael Busby said: "The negative comments I'm reading here make me ashamed to be a Glenman. Well done Glentoran for getting involved in this - I hope the majority of supporters can give it their backing."

Meanwhile, Glensman and BBC presenter David O'Reilly said he would be donating and congratulated Glentoran.

"So important to acknowledge and support this continent-wide appeal for refugees. Not immigrants, not terrorists - but refugees.

"There is not - and should not be some political context. This is simply about support for people who desperately need it, through no fault of their own," he said.

"Majority of charities supported by Glentoran are local or for Northern Ireland - but it's to the club's credit they have recognised how serious this situation is and become involved. Will be donating."

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