Belfast Telegraph

Football club apology over Northern Ireland supporters 'we hate Catholics' song

A still image from the video.
A still image from the video.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

A football club has apologised after a video emerged on social media appearing to show Northern Ireland supporters singing a sectarian song.

The 20-second video emerged on Monday evening. It shows a number of people in Northern Ireland replica shirts singing "we hate Catholics, we hate Roman Catholics" to the tune of Tiffany's 'I Think We're Alone Now'.

It is believed to have been shot in a Belfast bar on Sunday when Northern Ireland played Belarus in a European Championship qualifier.

The Irish Football Association was quick to condemn the video and said it would ban those involved.

On Tuesday evening Castlederg-based Killen Rangers Football Club issued an apology saying its members were present in the city for the game. It described the content of the footage as "despicable" and it would consider disciplinary action as the incident was entirely against the ethos of the club.

"We wish to firstly condemn this behaviour without hesitation," the club said in a statement.

"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.

"As a club we will meet and address this matter in line with our club policies and constitution. If disciplinary action is deemed appropriate then the necessary sanctions will be taken without hesitation.

"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."

Within an hour of the video being published on Twitter on Monday the official account of the Northern Ireland team responded.

"This is utterly wrong and we condemn sectarianism in any form," it tweeted.

In a further statement the Irish FA said it would work to ensure the people in the video are prevented from attending Northern Ireland games in future.

"The Irish FA condemns sectarianism of any kind. 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," a spokesperson said.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said the video represented "genuinely disgusting conduct" and called for action to be taken against those involved.

"I've been to Windsor and watched NI abroad and never witnessed anything like this. No sectarianism, nothing," the East Belfast MLA wrote on Twitter.

"Have to say I find this stuff really disgusting."

Sinn Fein MLA Sinead Ennis said the IFA must take action against the supporters in the video.

“The IFA have rightly condemned the actions of these so-called supporters but they also need to ensure that stringent steps are taken to identify and punish those involved. They should be banned by the IFA and reported to the PSNI," the South Down MLA said.

“I have been in contact with the IFA and my party colleague, Councillor Claire Canavan has reported it to the PSNI to stress that there should be zero tolerance to such disgusting displays of hate.

“There can be no place for this in sport. It is a hate crime and every possible step should be taken to stamp it out.”

Northern Ireland defeated Belarus 2-1 at Windsor Park on Sunday night. Josh Magennis grabbed a late goal to give the hosts an important win.

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