Roy Hodgson has reiterated his call for England fans to refrain from singing offensive religious or political chants in tonight’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland.
England and the Republic meet tonight for the first time since one of the darkest nights in the history of the English game 18 years ago.
Back in 1995 England’s friendly in Dublin turned sour when away fans threw chairs and benches on to the home support at Lansdowne Road after watching their team go 1-0 down.
The game was abandoned after 27 minutes and 20 people were hurt. Both national anthems were booed and England supporters sang “no surrender to the IRA” – a chant still heard during international matches involving the English team to this day.
Hodgson wrote to fans asking them to avoid singing such songs and he repeated that request last night.
“I was very happy to send out the letter,” he said.
“I know the game will be played on the field in the right spirit and I hope the England fans – and the Irish fans for that matter – show a level of respect all of us would hope to see in a game of this type.”
The Peace Process undertaken by the governments of both countries has led to a big improvement in relations since the last game, and Hodgson hopes that supporters will play their part in showing that times have changed.
“I can’t sit here and make bold statements but it would be a very good step along the way,” the England manager said.
“A lot of enormously important steps politically have been taken and if in a small way this football match can prove that the healing process is well under way that’s a great thing and it’s a great opportunity for both (sets of) fans.”
England vice-captain Frank Lampard echoed his manager’s thoughts, adding: “England fans have performed magnificently, they are brilliant, they support the team and respect is obviously ssomething we want in the game.”