‘It shouldn’t have happened’ - Vera Pauw apologises for players’ IRA chant

Player who posted video of teammates singing offensive lyrics is crying in her room, says Pauw

Vera Pauw and the FAI have apologised after video footage emerged of Ireland players singing an IRA chant in their dressing-room moments after Tuesday night’s historic victory in Glasgow.

In the video, which was circulated widely on social media before being deleted, the players can be seen and heard chanting: “Ooh ah, up the Ra”.

Pauw was not in the dressing-room at the time, but the Ireland manager says there are no excuses for the actions of the players.

“From the bottom of our heart, we are so sorry because there is no excuse for hurting people. It was unnecessary,” she said. “I have spoken already with several players about it and the one who posted it is devastated, she is crying in her room. She is so, so sorry. But there is no excuse for it.


“If I would have been there, to be honest, I would not have recognised [the song’s significance] because I am a foreigner, I don’t know the song, I don’t know what it means.

“But we are a team that is always respectful to everybody and respect is the first line of my first meeting with the players. That is why I feel so at home in this team because there is always respect for everybody and the fact that this has happened, there is no excuse for it. We cannot hurt people.

“It was part of the moment but that is not an excuse. So it is an educational moment also. We need to take responsibility at any moment, in any time.”

And the Dutch native went further, adding that the apology is not because the video got out of the changing room, but that the song was sung in the first place.

“Even in a private atmosphere you cannot do it because respect is something that carries you through everything, through your whole life.

“For anything that we do, we clean up the dressing room, always, we never leave stuff there, up to the message we send out and how we deal with people, the respect that we have for the people around us.

“I’m responsible for the players, so on behalf of the players and the staff and the association I would offer my sincere apologies to all the people that we have hurt,” she said.

“That is the mistake that people often make, that they think: ‘Well, it shouldn’t have gone out’. No, it shouldn’t have happened. It’s not that it’s gone out, it shouldn’t have happened. So without cameras it is the same thing because also then you do not show respect to the people that have suffered.”

Pauw stressed the issue of respect is at the core of what she believes the team should be about and is disappointed the incident occurred.

“We have a responsibility for the respect for the people who are hurt and who are offended by it. Your freedom ends when you step into the freedom of somebody else, that is what we say to each other always. You can do whatever you want but as soon as you hurt somebody it’s wrong. And we’re sorry for that and we want to offer our deepest apology to the people that we have offended.”

Pauw’s comments were made to the media moments after the FAI released a statement on the matter.

“The Football Association of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland Ireland Women’s National Team Manager Vera Pauw apologise for any offence caused by a song sung by players in the Ireland dressing room after the Fifa Women’s World Cup Qualifying Play-off win over Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.”

Ireland players Aine O’Gorman and Chloe Mustaki have also publicly apologised for the chant.

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times