Irish soccer’s governing body, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), has apologised after footage emerged of Republic of Ireland women’s players singing a pro-IRA song following their qualification for the World Cup in Glasgow last night (Tues).
A video circulated on social media purports to show the team, celebrating in their Hampden Park dressing room after the game, singing “Ooh ah, up the ‘RA”.
The Republic of Ireland qualified for their first World Cup in 20 years and their first ever Women’s World Cup after defeating Scotland 1-0.
“It was a massive lapse of judgement on our end. We are incredibly embarrassed at this moment in time and do really apologise.”
The FAI said in its statement: “The Football Association of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland Ireland Women’s National Team Manager Vera Pauw apologise for any offence caused by a song sung by players in the Ireland dressing room after the FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying Play-off win over Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.”
The team’s manager Vera Pauw said: “We apologise from the bottom of our hearts to anyone who has been offended by the content of the post-match celebrations after we had just qualified for the World Cup.
“We will review this with the players and remind them of their responsibilities in this regard. I have spoken with players this morning and we are sorry collectively for any hurt caused, there can be no excuse for that.”
Dutchwoman Ms Pauw, who has led her team to unprecedented success, said the player, from whose social media account the video of the song was posted, was in tears in the wake of the row.
She said the team, and association, would learn from the episode and avoid any repeat.
She continued: “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.
“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.”
“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.”
She said the issue was the singing of the song itself, not its dissemination 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.
“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.”
Asked if she would accept her players being banned from international competition as a result of the incident, she replied:
“If that’s what happens, that is something we need to accept.
“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 told Sky Sports the players are “incredibly embarrassed”.
“It was a massive lapse of judgement on our end. 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 apologise 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.”
Veteran player Aine O’Gorman told RTE: “We sang 100 songs last night and that was the one that went out. We would just like to apologise to anyone who was offended.”