Northern Ireland news

'Identify and punish' those who sang secarian chant - Glentoran

Glentoran submitted clips from an in-house TV recording as evidence where Linfield supporters could clearly be heard singing a sectarian chant

A football club whose Catholic players were subjected to sectarian songs during a Windsor Park clash has demanded that authorities "identify and punish" the fans responsible.

Glentoran FC expressed disappointment that while Linfield were fined for failing to control their supporters during the November 24 match, a charge of sectarian singing was dismissed.

The east Belfast club had submitted clips from an in-house TV recording as evidence that Linfield supporters could be heard singing a sectarian chant which had fallen out of favour in recent years.

Fans could be heard singing "The Glens have a chapel on the Newtownards Road for all you f***** b******s".

But while the Irish FA said it had fined Linfield £500 and charged it for a disciplinary breach, it related to "use of insulting words" but not sectarian terms - meaning adjudicators accepted they had heard the second word but not the first.

A Glentoran spokesman insisted it is "not a dispute between Glentoran and Linfield" and said it is "well known how hard the IFA has worked to make the National Stadium an inclusive venue in recent decades".

"We don't want to see that success undermined in any way. It's a matter of determining what is unacceptable at a football match.

"Glentoran has a playing and coaching staff from all backgrounds within Northern Ireland, and on an evening when there were no Glentoran supporters in the National Stadium, it was clear that the sectarian singing was aimed directly at Glentoran players.

"We will not allow our employees to face sectarianism at their place of work.

"We did not report this incident with a view to having sanctions imposed on Linfield. We did so to encourage the football authorities to identify and punish the guilty supporters.

"Irish league football does not have a major issue with sectarianism. Throughout the Troubles our local game was played and supported by all sections of our community.

"However we are all obliged to make our position clear when even isolated incidents of discriminatory behaviour occur."

A spokesperson for the IFA said: “The matter in question was referred to the Irish FA Disciplinary Committee which is comprised of independent legal experts and members of the football community.  

“The matter was considered based on the evidence presented, and the appropriate sanction was delivered.”

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