Northern Ireland news

BBC says it won't repeat Newsline clip appearing to show football fans singing 'f**k the Pope' after footage is broadcast in evening bulletin

The Uefa Super Cup match between Chelsea and Spanish side Villareal was played at Belfast's Windsor Park stadium.
Paul Ainsworth

BBC Northern Ireland last night said it would not re-run a clip of football fans appearing to chant a sectarian slogan which featured on the Newsline TV programme.

A report on the 6.30pm show on BBC One focused on last night’s Uefa Super Cup match at Windsor Park in south Belfast between Premier League side Chelsea and Spain’s Villareal.

The piece ahead of the 8pm kick-off featured fans in the Sandy Row area, close to the stadium. Among scenes of Chelsea fans drinking, there was a shot of revellers in a nearby pavilion, with the narration: “Nearby, a more familiar song was being sung.”

The film featured fans singing Sweet Caroline, the Neil Diamond song adopted by Northern Ireland supporters, before some fans apparently shouted “F*** the Pope”.

The clip, which was still available on the iPlayer last night, was condemned on social media, with one Twitter user claiming the BBC was “turning a deaf ear to a sectarian phrase”.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We are confident that there was no audio of swearing on our programme tonight. However we accept that we cannot be sure of the intentions of everyone in the video and for that reason we will not run the clip again.”

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Northern Ireland news