Irish supporters are to join the esteemed company of the likes of tennis star Rafael Nadal, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock and other noteworthy figures following the announcement that the city of Paris is to bestow its highest honour onto the followers of the Boys in Green.
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has announced that the city is to award the Irish supporters the ‘Grand Vermeil’, Paris’s most prestigious award presented to those deemed to have made a significant contribution to the city.
“Irish supporters have been exceptional during the Euros. Happy to award them the medal of the city,” a translation of a tweet sent by Mayor Hidalgo yesterday read. The announcement was made during a press conference in Paris.
“In terms of fair play, of ambience, of giving joy to all the audiences and the public, whatever the nationalities are, the Irish supporters were by far the nicest and the most gentle supporters we saw during all the games,” Patrick Klugman, deputy mayor of Paris, told RTÉ News.
While notice of the award has been sent to President Michael D Higgins, Mr Klugman recalled his own encounter with fans from the island, after he attended the game between Northern Ireland and Germany during the groups stages of the tournament.
“I posted a video showing the Irish supporters and how lovely they were, singing. It was a show in itself. They show, of course, a lot of support to the team, but more a great sense of the sport and fair play and ambience. It was a really, really good night for everyone,” he said.
“It is a great thing to have all these supporters, these green people, walking around singing, dancing, and we love it here in the city,” Mr Klugman said.
Minister for European Affairs and Cork North Central TD Dara Murphy, congratulated Republic of Ireland fans for the award.
“The Irish team and supporters who travelled to Euro 2016 really did us proud in France and on the European stage over the last few weeks,” he said.
“The fans showed true sportsmanship and the very best of the Irish spirit while in France, which has been a source of great pride for all of us following the championship at home,” he said.
The medal is the latest accolade to be received by Irish supporters.
Uefa presented the Republic of Ireland with a special reward in recognition of their supporters following the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
Ryszard Grobelny, the then-mayor of Poznan, visited Ireland shortly after Euro 2012 to thank the Irish fans for the impression they left on the Polish city, which hosted two of the Republic of Ireland’s three matches in the tournament.