IFA hands down sanction to Coalisland FC after IRA chanting

The Irish Football Association has fined Coalisland FC after a video emerged on social media of members of the team chanting IRA slogans on a team bus.

By Philip Bradfield
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 2:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 7:33 pm

Coalisland Athletic secured a 4-1 win over Bangor Young Men in the Junior Cup Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Monday 2 May.

But a brief video clip of their celebrations, circulating on social media, shows around a dozen men dancing on a team bus, with some apparently chanting “Up the Ra”.

An IFA spokesman confirmed that the team in the video was Coalisland Athletic and that it was investigating.

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The IFA says that it is investigating the team coach video in which men were heard chanting pro-IRA slogans.

Today the IFA confirmed that it had fined the club £250 for the chanting.

An IFA spokesman told the News Letter that the Mid Ulster Football League referred a complaint to the Irish Football Association’s Disciplinary Committee in relation to the conduct of Coalisland Athletic FC following their appearance in the fonaCAB Junior Cup Final on Monday 2 May.

“Upon review of the content of the complaint, the Disciplinary Committee charged Coalisland Athletic FC with a breach of Article 17 of the Articles of Association (bringing the game into disrepute) and sanctioned the club with a £250 fine.

Coalisland Athletic FC accepted the charge and sanction offered,” he said.

On 4 May the News Letter reported that the IFA had declined to say what the sanctions might have been available if any soccer players were found to have chanted IRA slogans on their team bus.

However the News Letter published a list of sample offences and sanctions available from the IFA Disciplinary Code.

The code says a reprimand, suspension or fine may be issued in the case of “inappropriate comments or content in the media or social media”.

A player or official who “publicly incites others to hatred or violence” will be given a minimum six month suspension and £200 fine.

And anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through “contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, colour, language, religion or origin” shall be suspended for a minimum of 10 matches. A fine shall also be imposed. Where several persons from the same club simultaneously breach the code, the team concerned may be deducted three points, it adds.

DUP MLA Keith Buchanan said: “This sanction sends out the wrong message. According to the IFA’s code of conduct, £250 is the minimum sanction for a junior club offending the ‘dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, colour, language, religion or origin’.

“To sing pro-PIRA songs is grossly offensive to people in my constituency who were injured at the hands of the PIRA just because of their religion. It is also deeply hurtful to the families of those who were murdered by the PIRA just because they were a Protestant.

“I will be writing to the IFA and asking them to review their approach. For the minimal sanction to be imposed on the club is quite incredible.

“I can assure the IFA that if they take this lax approach to such sectarian and hate filled speech then they are storing up problems for the future and setting a dangerous precedent.”

Sinn Fein the SDLP and UUP were also invited to comment.