Northern Ireland manager O’Neill condemns ‘mindless idiots’ over sectarian song
Northern Ireland’s football manager has branded those captured in an online video singing a sectarian song as “mindless idiots”.
The footage of a number of people, some wearing Northern Ireland football shirts, singing “we hate Catholics” to the tune of Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now emerged earlier this week.
The video was taken in a Belfast bar on Sunday – the day Northern Ireland beat Belarus in a European Championship qualifying match in the city.
International boss Michael O’Neill said the behaviour was in no way representative of 99.9% of Northern Ireland fans.
“I think there’s certainly no place for that kind of behaviour but I tend not to dwell on that,” he said.
“That’s one or two mindless idiots to be honest – that’s not a reflection on 99.9% of the support.
“As I’ve said all along, the Northern Ireland team is for everyone. And certainly that’s the message – we are stronger together and we will continue in that vein.”
O’Neill, who on Thursday launched a new children’s coaching programme run by the Irish Football Association (IFA) and McDonald’s, said Northern Ireland fans had established a reputation around the world for the “fantastic atmosphere” generated at home games.
He said it was important for fans to keep to those high standards of behaviour away from the stadium as well.
The IFA has said it takes a zero tolerance approach to sectarianism and it is working with the police to identify those involved.
In the wake of the incident, a Co Tyrone football club – Killen Rangers FC – said it was investigating whether disciplinary measures should be taken against any members who attended Sunday’s match as it apologised for the “obvious offence” caused to Catholics.
Police have said they are aware of the footage and their inquiries are ongoing.
They have appealed for anyone with information about those involved to come forward.