| 7.2°C Belfast

Northern Ireland football team’s anthem should not be changed, say majority of Belfast Telegraph readers

Close

Northern Ireland players stand for the National Anthem ahead of their match with Italy last month William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland players stand for the National Anthem ahead of their match with Italy last month William Cherry/Presseye

Carly Paoli sings the national anthems before the World Cup qualifying match between NI and Italy at Windsor Park last month

Carly Paoli sings the national anthems before the World Cup qualifying match between NI and Italy at Windsor Park last month

PA

Carly Paoli

Carly Paoli

William Cherry/Presseye

/

Northern Ireland players stand for the National Anthem ahead of their match with Italy last month William Cherry/Presseye

A poll among Belfast Telegraph readers suggests the majority believe the Northern Ireland football team’s anthem should not be changed.

It comes after former manager Michael O’Neill revealed he believes his Northern Ireland team were disadvantaged by the National Anthem, prompting a wider debate about whether a new song should be played before matches.

While the snap poll is not scientific, most readers agreed the anthem should not be changed, with 68% against changing the anthem among the 3,795 votes tallied up to 6pm on Wednesday.

The poll also showed 28% of respondents were in favour of changing the anthem, while 4% voted that they were unsure, but were open to discussion around the issue.

Readers on Facebook also engaged in the debate, with David Browne from Belfast arguing: “They can choose to play something different but that would not then be the national anthem. NI are simply doing what over 99% of other nations do, playing their national anthem before the game.”

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Darren Andrews described the “issue” with the anthem being that it is shared by England.

“Finding a suitable anthem for both communities will be challenging to say the least. It will not change the mind of players who don't want to play for Northern Ireland but might make the ones who do more comfortable,” he wrote.

Mr O’Neill made his comments on the UTV programme Up Close – A Game Of Two Halves, which examined the issue of the anthem on Tuesday evening.

Northern Ireland’s most successful manager of the last 30 years referenced the “real togetherness, real emotion” other nations got from their anthems being played before international fixtures.

He said he felt his team needed something they could “use as our identity” in a similar vein to Scotland and Wales.

He did insist however that his views on playing God Save The Queen prior to Northern Ireland games should not be construed as disrespectful to those who embrace the anthem.

The Stoke City boss, who accepted an MBE from The Queen, also talked about the compromise approach he instigated among a number of players from nationalist areas who may not relate to the anthem.

“When I came in I could see that a lot of the players from nationalist backgrounds would stand with their heads down,” he said.

“So we made sure that the players linked, first of all, it was very important. And that the nationalist players were requested that, whilst they may not sing the anthem that they would respect it and they would stand with their heads not bowed.

“I felt it was important for those players to respect the lads in the squad who did regard it as their anthem. And so not to have body language, which would appear disrespectful as well.”

Others engaged in the debate on the programme, including senior international ladies captain Marissa Callaghan who argued it was “sad” Northern Ireland “don’t really have their own identity”.

“As a Catholic player, unfortunately I don’t get that experience of standing tall and singing the anthem as loud as you can,” she added.

Also interviewed during the UTV programme, Northern Ireland fan and acclaimed Coleraine actor Jimmy Nesbitt when asked what could be an alternative, stated: “Well, you could play The Undertones. Or you could play you know, Van Morrison. Play something we’d be proud of. Something that all of us like.”


Top Videos



Privacy