Belfast Telegraph

Uefa's U-turn over order to cover up Glenavon war memorial

By Jonathan Bell

A war memorial at an Irish League stadium will not now be covered up for a showpiece international tournament, it has emerged.

The move has been welcomed by fans. "Common sense has prevailed," one local football source told the Belfast Telegraph.

Yesterday Uefa was slammed for "enforcing stupid rules" by ordering the memorial at Glenavon FC be covered up ahead of its hosting of games for the women's Under-19 tournament.

The memorial is dedicated to players from the club who gave their lives during the First World War.

Ulster Unionist MLA and former soldier Doug Beattie condemned the edict from European football's governing body to the Lurgan Blues as "a sad day when a nation cannot remember its dead with dignity".

However, it has now been confirmed the memorial will not be covered up.

"Through the coverage in the Belfast Telegraph we were able to show Uefa that this was not the type of publicity they wanted and thankfully they agreed," said a source.

Fifteen Glenavon players are commemorated on the tribute at the club's Mourneview Park stadium.

A spokesman for the local organising committee explained that it was following Uefa guidelines.

But he added that after discussions yesterday the governing body's officials confirmed there was no need for the memorial to be covered for the three games the ground is to stage.

"We can now focus on celebrating what will be a wonderful sporting occasion here in Northern Ireland," he said.

Uefa said: "The local organising committee of the Uefa Women's Under-19 Championship requested that the war memorial at Mourneview Park be screened from the field of play based on Uefa guidelines. However, Uefa has advised that there is no obligation for the memorial in question to be covered up."

Mourneview is to host Northern Ireland versus Scotland, Spain versus Scotland and Italy versus England.

The tournament kicks off next week.

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