apology made | 

Sky's position clear over sponsorship deal with Ireland women’s team after controversy

Sponsors Sky say they welcomed an FAI vow to review the incident, but there is no threat to the deal to sponsor the women’s team.

Ireland boss Vera Pauw© SPORTSFILE

Aidan FiztmauriceSunday World

The FAI’s sponsorship deal between the Republic of Ireland’s senior women’s team and Sky is safe, despite the fallout from the celebrations of Tuesday’s World Cup win over Scotland after a video emerged of players singing a Wolfe Tones song which included the line “Ooh ah, up the ‘Ra”.

Sponsors Sky say they welcomed an FAI vow to review the incident, but there is no threat to the deal to sponsor the women’s team, a major relief to the association as it still has three years to run.

“We support Vera Pauw’s apology and comments on the matter, as well as her commitment to reviewing the incident with the players and their collective responsibility as role models,” a Sky Ireland spokesperson told the Irish Independent.

Footage posted on the social-media account of one of the players captured a celebration, after the historic 1-0 win in Scotland, of the squad signing the Celtic Symphony song, including the offensive line “Ooh ah, up the ‘Ra”.

That drew criticism from the unionist community in Northern Ireland, with DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson saying “the sectarian violence of the IRA should never be trivialised” and received widespread media coverage in the UK.

Democratic Unionist Party MLA David Hilditch has also lodged a complaint with Police Scotland over the matter.

In a statement, the East Antrim MLA said he has written to Police Scotland, UEFA and the FAI regarding the players’ actions, which he described as “repulsive scenes”.

Pauw issued a strongly worded apology for the players’ actions in a series of media interviews yesterday.

“I’m responsible for the players, so on behalf of the players and the staff and the association I would offer my sincere apologies to all the people that we have hurt,” Pauw said.

“Even though nobody meant anything with it, it still is wrong because we hurt people.

“In my team everybody has respect, so we are more disappointed in ourselves that we have overstepped that rule than anything else, and we are so sorry that we have hurt people.”

Pauw will now turn her attention to the draw for the World Cup finals on Saturday week, but already she has plans to get the highest possible levels of preparation, including a mooted friendly with England which she wants to see at a sold-out Aviva Stadium.

“We’re not going there to be there and to enjoy Australia. We’re there to win. That will always be the case,” she said.

Asked about potential friendly opponents, she said: “England at the end phase. We need to build it up, like we did last year. We built up our resistance and hopefully we can do that next year too. If we can fill the Aviva then I’m more than happy to play at the Aviva, because we have qualified now.”

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