England boss calls for end to anti-IRA chants

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Hodgson in plea to England fans
Hodgson in plea to England fans

England manager Roy Hodgson has urged supporters of his team to ditch their anti-IRA chants ahead of the high profile friendly international against the Republic of Ireland in June.

England supporters caused controversy last November when they chanted "F*** the IRA" during the team's 3-1 friendly victory over Scotland at Celtic Park and even though the Football Association (FA) liaised with fan groups after the game to try to prevent such chants happening again, they were heard during England's 1-1 draw at the Juventus Stadium in Turin on Tuesday.

Familiar chants of "no surrender to the IRA" were also occasionally heard in Italy, with the prospect of a match in Dublin on June 7th making the issue even more high profile.

"I'm very keen that we get the support that we get. I love the fact that our fans come (to matches) and there's no way I can justify or be glad about any political chants of that nature," stated Hodgson.

"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."

Hodgson wrote to England fans before the Republic of Ireland visited Wembley two years ago, asking them to refrain from singing songs "of a religious or political perspective - which could cause offence to our visitors or fellow fans.".

The move appeared to pay off as "no surrender" was rarely heard during the match at Wembley and there were no arrests for football-related violence.

Memories of the horrible scenes at the old Lansdowne Road 20 years ago are still fresh for many, as English thugs got a friendly international abandoned as they started to dismantle parts of the stadium and began rioting.

Gardai are already planning a huge security operation when England come to the Irish captain next summer, with the comments by Hodgson likely to be welcomed by all involved in organising the fixture.