A Football Association official was forced to ask the England supporters’ band to stop playing during last night’s friendly against Scotland in Glasgow after it inadvertently provided background music to anti-IRA singing.
Some of the 5,000 away supporters sang foul-mouthed anti-IRA songs while the band played Follow England Away – a song it regularly performs during England matches – during the 3-1 victory for Roy Hodgson’s side at Celtic Park.
Many England fans sang “F*** the IRA” on several occasions during the match and, in the first half, an FA official contacted the band to ask it to stop playing the song because it was innocently providing the tune for the offensive singing.
Hodgson was unaware of the chanting, but apologised for any offence on behalf of the FA, who could take further action particularly when England are due to play in Dublin next June.
He said: “I was aware the crowd were tremendously supportive. I didn’t have a clue what they were chanting.
“I don’t condone it. If anyone was offended, I’m sure the FA would like to apologise to them.
“All we can do is play our football and be grateful for the support and hopefully they will behave themselves and not get themselves into a situation where their chanting is being criticised.”
England fans had behaved well in the build-up to the match, joining in with a minute’s applause for Scotland supporter Nathan McSeveney, who died from a fall at Celtic Park during the Republic of Ireland match on Friday.
But once the match had begun some Three Lions supporters tainted their reputation when the anti-IRA songs began.
Hodgson admitted that he had long ago stopped listening to what fans are singing during matches.
Asked about the chants on BBC Radio 5 Live, he said: “After a long career in football, I learnt long ago that the crowd are either signing or are silent in the background but when they chant or sing most of the time I don’t have a clue.
“I thought their support was excellent. I will leave any discussion about any words they have used.”
Police Scotland reported no football-related disorder in the immediate aftermath of the match and said they had not received any reports of offensive chants.