Vera Pauw apologises over ‘Up the ’Ra’ chant while DUP MLA lodges complaint to Uefa

The FAI issued a statement of apology on Wednesday morning

Ireland manager Vera Pauw. Image: Sportsfile.© SPORTSFILE

Aidan Fitzmaurice and Kurtis ReidIndependent.ie

Vera Pauw and the Ireland squad have apologised for the "hurt" caused by the singing of a controversial song in the wake of their success of World Cup qualification last night, which broke the squad's own code of conduct for respect.

And as she admitted that the player, from whose social media account the video of the song was posted, was in tears in the wake of the row, Pauw vowed that the squad, and association would learn from the episode and avoid a repeat.

Footage emerged online of the squad in the dressing room at Hampden Park after the 1-0 win over Scotland, which secured a place at the 2023 World Cup finals, singing the Wolfe Tones song 'Celtic Symphony', which contains the line 'Ooh ah up the 'Ra'.

The FAI issued a statement of apology on Wednesday morning and Pauw then expanded on that to state her own alarm at the song and the hurt caused.

A DUP MLA has now made a complaint to Scottish police, UEFA and the FAI about the players singing the chant.

"We were made aware of a clip that has gone viral, out of the dressing-room. From the bottom of our heart, we are so sorry because there is no excuse for hurting people," Pauw said.

"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.

"That [respect] is the first thing in our line, the first sentence, in my team everybody has respect because there is always respect to everybody around us. 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.

"It was unnecessary. I have spoken already with several players about it and the one who posted it is devastated, she is crying in her room. She is so, so sorry. I said to her that it is wrong but not only wrong from her, it's wrong that that song has been sung with the meaning that it has.

"There is no excuse for it. If I would have been there, to be honest, I would not have recognised it [the song's significance] because I am a foreigner, I don't know the song, I don't know what it means.

"I asked, I asked 'Did you know what you were singing?' And they said, 'Of course we know it but we didn't feel it. It was not meant to hurt anyone'. But that is no excuse. So if you know it, that means that if you have respect for people… and if you know what happened and you know the history and you know the background, because everybody knows that, then it shouldn't have happened.

"Deeply sorry. Even if it's in the emotions of the celebrations, it's as wrong as when it's planned. It shouldn't have happened.

"We are a team that is always respectful to everybody and respect is the first line of my first meeting with the players. That is why I feel so at home in this team because there is always respect for everybody and the fact that this has happened, there is no excuse for it. We cannot hurt people.

"Those are the core values in life, that you understand what you do to others the moment you do something. And that is whether you make a joke about somebody, and immediately stepped up and do something about it, because you've hurt somebody, or on the other extreme there's a history here that we have to respect and even if you don't experience it yourself you have hurt people so it's wrong.

"And we need to take responsibility over it and we have to be aware of it. Hopefully this educates us that you constantly have a responsibility for respect to others."

Pauw denied that there was any anger on her part on the fact that the video had left the confines of the dressing room and went online as she said the issue was the singing of the song itself, not its publication on social media.

"That is the mistake that people often make, that they think, 'Well, it shouldn't have gone out'. No, it shouldn't have happened. It's not that it's gone out, it shouldn't have happened. So without cameras it is the same thing because also then you do not show respect to the people that have suffered," Pauw added.

"It was part of the moment but that is not an excuse. So it is an educational moment also. We need to take responsibility at any moment, in any time. People said to me, 'If it was in private....' No, even in a private atmosphere you cannot do it because respect is something that carries you through everything, through your whole life and we, yeah, we have that value as the highest point."

Pauw was also asked if she would accept her players being banned from international competition as a result of the incident.

“If that’s what happens, that is something we need to accept,” she said.

“That is part of what has happened. I hope people feel that it was not meant to hurt people, not at all. It was in the middle of celebrations. It doesn't matter if it went out or not. It should not have happened. We hurt people, and we are very sorry about that.

“It's genuine. I mean it from deep in my heart. It's not something put out to make things good, I really mean it. They are our values.”

Ireland defender Chloe Mustaki revealed the players are 'incredibly embarrassed' over the incident.

"It was a massive lapse of judgement on our end," Mustaki told Sky Sports.

"We are incredibly embarrassed at this moment in time and do really apologise. We are all really sorry. There was lots going on when the final whistle went and we obviously didn't mean to cause any hurt. We do apologize for that absolutely.

"There was a lot going on in the changing rooms in such a major moment. There were lots of different songs put on left, right and centre. We need to learn in these moments to be better and do better. We have all been brought up knowing a lot about Irish history. We need to be better in moments like this and we recognise that."

Democratic Unionist Party MLA David Hilditch has now 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.”

"Unfortunately this is becoming an all too common occurrence, a team wins a trophy or qualifies for a tournament and their first thought is to chant about a terrorist organisation" said Mr Hilditch.

"We have seen it numerous times in the past and no doubt we will see it again in the future. An apology doesn't cut it. There are countless victims of IRA terrorism in both Northern Ireland and the Republic who will be rightly disgusted by the actions of this group of women who are supposed to be representing their country."

The DUP MLA continued to say he hoped sporting body UEFA is “sitting up and taking note” of the players’ actions.

"If this were a team chanting about Al-Qaeda or Hamas there would be wide spread uproar and the team would most likely be expelled from the tournament. This is no different, but will we see action? I doubt it."

He added he believes the FAI should “withhold the players’ match fees” and donate them to a victims’ charity.

Police Scotland has been asked for a response.

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