THE Football Association has warned England fans not to sing anti-Catholic hate songs when the two countries meet in Wembley tonight.
In a statement published on the FA’s website, England fans are warned that their national team faces FIFA sanctions as severe as tournament expulsion if they sing ‘No Surrender’.
The FA said: “The phrase dates back many years and is associated with pro-Protestant, anti-Catholic sentiment.
“More recently the phrase has been used with reference to the IRA and has also been adopted by extreme right wing groups in Britain.”
Because of the song’s history, the statement adds, “it is clear that this is not a football based chant and we call on fans not to sing it.”
The song was notoriously chanted by English fans the last time they met their opponents in Dublin, at the disastrous Ireland v England match in February 1995, which resulted in the Lansdowne Road riots.
The FA’s plea has been echoed by England manager Roy Hodgson in his match day programme notes, which were sent out to fans yesterday by email.
“I strongly urge everyone in the ground to show each other respect and not to chant songs that could be regarded as insulting to others – particularly from a religious or political perspective” he said.
The Metropolitan Police has remained tight-lipped about its preparation for the event and its assessment of the potential threat it poses.
But DCI Andy Barnes told The Irish Post that officers have been trawling through online forums and social media for any signs of groups planning to cause trouble on the day.
“We continuously monitor open source information as part of our intelligence gathering operation in the build up to and during an event,” he said .
“We have been planning and working closely with our partners as we do routinely to prepare for an event like this. The Met manages over 4,500 events every year and is well experienced.
“An appropriate and proportionate policing plan will be in place for the event.”
A spokesperson for the Met said any perpetrators of racist chanting could be arrested on the day of the match or after a police investigation into a complaint.
“The Metropolitan Police Service will take any allegation of what could be described as racist chanting and or behaviour very seriously,” he added.
“And if any matters are brought to our attention they will of course be thoroughly investigated by operation Arrow Tip, which is our ongoing response to football-related disorder or criminality.”
Online, the FA warns that a minority could tarnish the reputation of England fans and reminds ticket-holders of the potentially grave consequences that could befall the team
“The reputation of England fans has developed into something we all should be very proud of, but sadly, this can be undone very quickly by a minority,” it states. “Friendly matches come under the jurisdiction of FIFA, which has a strict disciplinary code that applies to the behaviour of supporters.
“If breached, FIFA can impose sanctions ranging from anything between a fine and expulsion from a competition. FIFA’s disciplinary code also provides for stadium bans for supporters of at least two years.”
It is understood that supporters will be handed a specially prepared document encouraging them to respect one another at the grounds before kick-off tonight.