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Dublin: 8°C Friday 15 January 2021

Irish supporters' group 'shocked and angered' by treatment during FAI protest

YBIG say fans were intimidated and manhandled at the international friendly at the Aviva Stadium last night.

The South Stand last night.
The South Stand last night.

IRELAND SUPPORTERS’ GROUP YBIG are unhappy with how fans staging a protest against the FAI were treated at last night’s international friendly.

The peaceful demonstration was arranged to take place in South Stand of the Aviva Stadium during the 12th minute of Ireland’s meeting with the US when supporters expressed their frustration towards the association’s chief executive John Delaney.

YBIG’s discontent stems from Delaney’s handling of the distribution of tickets for last week’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland, with many regular travelling supporters unable to buy tickets for the away section.

A number of banners were removed by stadium personnel during the protest last night and YBIG have released the following statement:

Republic of Ireland fans have been left shocked and angered by the heavy handed treatment of stadium personnel at last night’s game. This included the removal of banners as well the intimidation and manhandling of supporters resulting a completely unnecessary escalation of tension.

A number of supporters had organised a protest at the game in the light of recent ticketing issues, which had brought many of the long running frustrations with the FAI to the surface once again.

YBIG, as a online community, did not take a stated position on a protest. We are aware of other fans who boycotted the game, and several hundred supporters have threatened not to renew season tickets until the FAI engage in a process of real change.

Supporters were stunned to be welcomed upon arrival at the game by such a heavy security presence in the South Stand Lower. This included a number of uniformed members of An Garda Síochána. It must be noted that the section had never been involved in any behaviour that attracted Garda presence in the past. This level of security was specifically targeted at this section, and was not replicated around the ground.

The FAI confiscated banners before and during the game, despite these being fully compliant with all ground rules and regulations. In addition, in an attempt to remove banners being displayed in Section 114, stewards manhandled supporters. In no way do banners such as “#supportdoesntwork” and “Fans After Income” create any risk to crowd safety.

Supporters presented copies of the ground regulations to stadium personnel and asked for clarification on which regulations were being breached. The response was either silence or tearing up of the regulations in the faces of supporters. Supporters are currently collecting video and photographic evidence of these events and are considering formal complaints over the behaviour of stadium personnel and Gardai in this matter.

It was interesting to note that the CEO felt able to mention the ticketing fiasco in passing in his programme notes last night, but has yet to respond to the ten questions posed to him. What have the FAI got to hide, and why did they feel the need to spectacularly over react to a peaceful and good natured protest?

Supporters have posed specific and reasonable questions for the Chief Executive to answer. The response? Silence and an attempt to crush any public form of protest. This is not the first time that the FAI have attempted to stop fans protesting at games, either at League of Ireland level or international games.”

A Garda spokesperson told The Score that no arrests were made at the stadium last night but that two men were removed as a result of drunk and disorderly behaviour contrary to the Public Order acts in a separate incident. The FAI were unavailable to comment.

This video has also been released (warning, strong language):

Source: Come On You Boys In Green/YouTube

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Ben Blake

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