TD gives Irish fans red card over drink and slogans

A Labour TD has criticised some Irish soccer fans for drinking to excess and writing bawdy slogans on the Tricolour during the European Championship in Poland.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a passionate supporter of the Irish team, said there was a “troubling aspect” to the behaviour of a small number of fans.

He criticised one of the players, Sean St Ledger, for tweeting in praise of a fan who had been pictured kissing a woman’s breast.

Mr Ó Ríordáin also took aim at RTÉ for airing a “crass, laddish” programme on the championship and FAI chief executive John Delaney for buying drinks for fans.

The TD, who attended the games against Spain and Italy, made his criticisms in a wide-ranging blog post.

He called for greater leadership to tackle sexism in the game and break the cultural link between alcohol and sport. He started by stressing that the vast majority of fans had been a credit to the country and won Ireland “admirers from all over Europe”.

However, he said a small number had behaved very differently and their conduct should not be ignored.

“The Tricolour deserves better than to have the slogan ‘Pints, Tits, Ireland’ scrawled across it and hung proudly and prominently in a bar as fans gathered before the Spanish encounter in Gdansk,” said Mr Ó Ríordáin.

“If that slogan was written across another national flag in the past we might have winced to ourselves and used it as an example as how we Irish are different. But unfortunately some of us now think it is simply good fun to encourage a highly embarrassed Italian girl to ‘get them out for the lads’ in a tram in Poznan.

“It is also disappointing that the Twitter account of a senior international player described as a ‘legend’ the Irish fan pictured kissing the naked breast of a female Croatian fan during the opening fixture of our Euro 2012 campaign.”

The TD said that RTÉ’s coverage of the tournament, though excellent in other areas, “descended to serious depths of poor taste with the crass, laddish nonsense that was the undertone of every painful minute of ‘Craig Doyle’s Euro 2012’ programme”.

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