Club issues apology after anti-Catholic chanting at league title celebrations
A Portadown-based football club has issued an apology after video emerged of anti-Catholic chants being sung at an event to mark their league title celebrations at the weekend.
A video, which has since been removed, was shared on social media on Saturday evening from an event to mark the presentation of the Mid Ulster Intermediate League trophy to Hanover FC.
The video, which the Portadown Times has obtained, shows players and club officials celebrating with supporters and the trophy, while the Tina Turner classic 'Simply the Best' is played over a sound system.
During the song's chorus, chants of F**k the Pope and the IRA can be heard.
Condemning those involved in the chanting, Sinn Fein Cllr Paul Duffy said: "A number of constituents passed the video onto myself- it's not the way to be celebrating winning the league.
"It's not befitting of any sporting club, whatsoever, to behave like that, especially just after the council hosted a civic reception for them.
"As a party we condemned when a bonfire in Lurgan burned a flag belonging to Hanover and we condemned it outright. I just don't think a sporting club should be celebrating in such a manner."
Voicing condemnation, Upper Bann UUP MLA Doug Beattie said: “I have worked with Hannover FC, its players, supporters and club developers on a number of occasions and this video is not a reflection of the club. That said I am disappointed by this video and the disparaging chants about the Pope, who is a religious leader for many millions of people throughout the world, which can clearly be heard.
“There should be no room for hate in sport and although the video has been taken down it is important that both the club and supporters reflect on its impact.”
In a statement issued to the Times in the wake of the incident, the Hanover FC wished to apologise for the video's content.
A spokesperson for the Brownstone Park side said: "Following our league title victory on Saturday, Hanover FC were made aware of video footage circulating on social media in which derogatory singing by some supporters in attendance could be heard during the chorus of 'Simply the Best' as the team returned home with the trophy.
"Immediately upon the discovery of this, Hanover FC officials got the video removed and furthermore opened direct contact with Mid-Ulster Football League in order to apologise and work to resolve the issue.
"As a club we wish to apologise for these actions and can confirm that this matter has been dealt with internally following investigation. We wholeheartedly condemn all forms of sectarianism and as a club will continue to promote the IFA's 'Football for All' ethos through both our youth and senior setups and would hope not to be judged by the mindless actions of the few, but by the hard work that we have put in as a club to build strong community ties and relationships with other clubs and organisations from all sides of the community."