EVERY England fan who has a ticket to the game against Republic of Ireland yesterday received a letter from Roy Hodgson asking them to refrain from offensive chanting of a religious or political nature.
The last time the Three Lions and the Republic met 18 years ago, the game had to be abandoned after 27 minutes due to rioting by England fans at Lansdowne Road.
The history between the two countries means there is potential for trouble and for offensive chanting such as the “no surrender [to the IRA]” song to take place, but the Football Association wants neither to occur this evening.
It is has therefore sent an emailed letter to every England fan who has a ticket to the match, requesting they do not chant songs which might cause offence. In the letter England manager Hodgson says: “Ahead of the Ireland fixture, on behalf of The FA, I would like to ask our supporters to please respect our opponents and welcome them in the right way. Wembley is considered the world over as the home of football and we ask those attending to not take part in any chanting – particularly of a religious or political perspective – which could cause offence to our visitors or fellow fans.”
Hodgson will also ask England fans to refrain from such chants in his programme notes for the match, which is close to a 90,000 sell-out.
Another reason the FA took the action is because it received a letter from Fifa following England’s friendly win in San Marino two months ago asking it to remind fans not to engage in offensive chanting.
It was reported at the time that England fans sang a song which suggested Rio and Anton Ferdinand should be burned on a bonfire. It has been suggested the song which was reported to have been heard had racist overtones because Anton Ferdinand was the target of racist abuse from former England captain John Terry. Fifa has since decided to take no action.
The Football Association of Ireland is understood to support the FA’s stance, but it is not expected to issue a similar statement to the 10,000 away fans expected at Wembley.