THE Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has pledged to investigate the sectarian chanting of supporters attending Euro 2012 in Poland.
The move comes after video footage emerged showing a number of fans in the Republic’s colours singing “IRA” and “**** the Queen” on the streets of Krakow ahead of their team’s opening match in the tournament at the weekend.
When contacted by the News Letter, an FAI spokesman insisted the association “does not condone offensive chanting of any description”.
“We are very disappointed by the nature of the chanting highlighted in the YouTube clip,” he said. “Our fans enjoy an excellent reputation the world over and the actions of this small group do not reflect the attitudes or actions of the vast majority of our fans.
“This incident will be investigated and further actions may be taken as necessary.”
In the online clip, up to 30 supporters can be clearly heard singing the additional words during a rendition of the Fields of Athenry.
Senior unionist politicians condemned the Krakow incident.
Welcoming the FAI response, DUP MP Gregory Campbell called on the football authority to punish those involved accordingly.
“If they can establish who the offenders were, and if they are frequent attenders at home international games, I would expect to see them to be issued with a banning order so they cannot attend future matches,” he said.
Mr Campbell said he does not think that sectarianism is “widespread” among Republic supporters – however, he said it appeared that it was “prevalent” among a small number of fans.
He added: “There are a hardcore of supporters who engage in such activity and the FAI needs to take action against them.”
Last night, the YouTube video – entitled “Irish Fans Going Mental” – had attracted almost 40,000 hits.
Many visitors expressed outrage at its content, with one user referring to the negative headlines generated by the News Letter’s original story.
He claimed the episode had exposed the fans involved as “sectarian bigoted rabble”.
He said: “Disgusting behaviour that thanks to your video the whole of Northern Ireland and the ROI knows about.”
Another user described the offenders as “undiluted bigots”.
However, some viewers openly expressed their support for the offensive lyrics used in the clip.
The controversy occurred after a minority of Northern Ireland fans were criticised after a similar video recording in Dublin last year.