Saturday 17 March 2018

IRA songs land Celtic in trouble

Gavin McCafferty

Celtic fans are at the centre of a UEFA probe after police raised concerns over "offensive" songs during a Europa League game against Rennes.

Celtic have been asked by European football's governing body to give their side of events during the 3-1 victory over the French club at Parkhead on November 3. Strathclyde Police made the UEFA delegate aware of "offensive" singing during the encounter. A spokesman for the force said: "We can confirm there were a number of instances during the game of singing offensive songs and inquiries are ongoing to detect the offenders."

Celtic confirmed they had been asked by UEFA to provide a response to the allegations. The club are understood to have been taken by surprise by the UEFA action, having had no feedback from the police.

A Celtic Park source said: "This is quite unprecedented as no issues were raised to the club during the match and the police didn't inform us directly about their concerns."

It is unclear what charge Celtic could face although it is believed that the allegations centre on songs about the IRA.

Celtic last month urged fans to stop singing pro-IRA chants after being "inundated" with complaints from their own fans following their 2-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle. Police announced they had launched an investigation into the "singing of sectarian songs" following the game on October 2.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said: "Chants glorifying the Provisional IRA are totally unacceptable. One, it is wrong, and it is an embarrassment to the club and embarrassment to the majority of supporters."

Possible sanctions include a fine and ban on supporters.

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