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England boss Hodgson calls for fans to end IRA chants 20 years on from Dublin riots

By Adrian Rutherford

Roy Hodgson has told England football fans to cut out "political chants" before this summer's game against the Republic of Ireland.

Anti-IRA songs could clearly be heard during England's 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin earlier this week.

It has been a frequent issue at international fixtures.

Last November England fans caused controversy when they chanted "F*** the IRA" during a match in Scotland.

The latest incident prompted England boss Hodgson to issue a plea to supporters to stop the chanting ahead of June's trip to Dublin.

The Football Association has been working to ease tension ahead of what has historically been a difficult fixture.

When the sides last met in Dublin in 1995 the game was abandoned after 27 minutes because of rioting.

Hodgson said: "I'm a football coach and very keen that we get the support that we get, of course.

"I love the fact that our fans come to games but there's no way I can justify or be glad about any political chants of that nature.

"We can only hope that in some way we can put that right before we go to Ireland because the last thing we want in Ireland is anything other than a very good football match which again puts us to the test like the Italy game has done."

Fans were criticised after a series of unsavoury chants in Turin on Tuesday night.

At one point they goaded Italian supporters by singing: "Where were you in World War Two?"

There are fears that further chants could cause a security risk when they visit the Republic.

England have not played in Dublin since the sides' infamous 1995 meeting at Lansdowne Road.

Seats were ripped up, missiles thrown and some visiting fans fought pitched battles with gardai.

The trouble, subsequently found to have been orchestrated by a far-Right group, flared after David Kelly scored for the Republic in the 22nd minute.

The game had to be stopped by the referee and the players were led off the pitch, before the match was eventually abandoned.

Officials believe the change in both the football and political landscapes since 1995 has opened up the possibility of the two nations meeting in Dublin without the threat of a repeat of the violence from 20 years ago.

There were no arrests for football-related violence when the sides played at Wembley Stadium in May 2013. The game finished 1-1.

Hodgson wrote to fans before that game, asking them to refrain from singing songs "of a religious or political perspective - which could cause offence to our visitors or fellow fans".

The FA had to apologise last November after fans chanted "F*** the IRA" during England's high-profile 3-1 friendly victory over Scotland at Celtic Park.

At the time, the FA said it was unhappy about the chants and urged supporters not to chant songs that could be regarded as insulting to others.

Belfast Telegraph


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