Anti-FAI protesters complain about treatment at the Aviva

Anti-FAI protesters complain about treatment at the Aviva
A banner at the match last night

By Grainne McGuinness

Republic of Ireland fans who wanted to stage a protest against the FAI during last night’s friendly against the USA have complained about treatment from stewards and Gardaí.

FAI Chief Executive John Delaney used last night’s programme notes to complain about Ireland’s ticket allocation for last Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Celtic Park.

But a section of Ireland supporters believe Delaney himself to be part of the problem in the treatment of fans of Irish soccer and brought banners to the Aviva last night to voice their displeasure.

The protests were planned in advance and some noted there was a large steward presence in the section of the stands where they were meant to be taking place.

The protests began during the first half of the match.

There have been unconfirmed complaints since about stewards and Gardaí taking banners from fans and in some cases ejecting them from the stadium.

This morning, a supporters group called "Come on you boys in green" put this video on YouTube about last night's events.

There is strong language in the video and the contents have not been verified. contacted the FAI, but they were not immediately available for comment.

In the last hour this statement has been released by the YBIG support group.

"Republic of Ireland fans have been left shocked and angered by the heavy handed treatment of stadium personnel at last night’s game. This included the removal of banners as well the intimidation and manhandling of supporters resulting a completely unnecessary escalation of tension.

A number of supporters had organised a protest at the game in the light of recent ticketing issues, which had brought many of the long running frustrations with the FAI to the surface once again. YBIG, as a online community, did not take a stated position on a protest. We are aware of other fans who boycotted the game, and several hundred supporters have threatened not to renew season tickets until the FAI engage in a process of real change.

Supporters were stunned to be welcomed upon arrival at the game by such a heavy security presence in the South Stand Lower This included a number of uniformed members of An Garda Síochána. It must be noted that the section had never been involved in any behaviour that attracted Garda presence in the past. This level of security was specifically targeted at this section, and was not replicated around the ground.

The FAI confiscated banners before and during the game, despite these being fully compliant with all ground rules and regulations. In addition, in an attempt to remove banners being displayed in Section 114, stewards manhandled supporters. In no way do banners such as “#supportdoesntwork” and “Fans After Income” create any risk to crowd safety.

Supporters presented copies of the ground regulations to stadium personnel and asked for clarification on which regulations were being breached. The response was either silence or tearing up of the regulations in the faces of supporters. Supporters are currently collecting video and photographic evidence of these events and are considering formal complaints over the behaviour of stadium personnel and Gardai in this matter.

It was interesting to note that the CEO felt able to mention the ticketing fiasco in passing in his programme notes last night, but has yet to respond to the ten questions posed to him. What have the FAI got to hide, and why did they feel the need to spectacularly over react to a peaceful and good natured protest?

Supporters have posed specific and reasonable questions for the Chief Executive to answer. The response? Silence and an attempt to crush any public form of protest. This is not the first time that the FAI have attempted to stop fans protesting at games, either at League of Ireland level or international games."

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