No anthems or flags in NI Vs RoI match

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Neither Northern Ireland nor Republic of Ireland flags nor national anthems were used in the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier in Lurgan last night, due to “safety concerns”.

The Irish FA said in a statement that the move was agreed with UEFA in advance.

“Following safety concerns raised ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in Lurgan [last night] it was agreed with the UEFA match delegate that neither national anthem be played or flag be flown before the game,” it said.

There are unconfirmed reports that a threat was made before the match.

Northern Ireland lost 2-0.

NI manager Alfie Wylie told the BBC afterwards: “I’m not an administrator, and I don’t work for Uefa, I’m not in administrator so I wasn’t involved in it. I arrived here as a coach tonight and we played the game. I think I’ve enough to look after with regards our team’s result and performance tonight than to get all concerned about the flags and anthems.

“That’s for other people to answer. Obviously decisions were made that people thought right for the occasion.”

A spokesman for the FAI said: “In advance of last night’s 2019 World Cup qualifier with Northern Ireland at Mourneview Park in Lurgan, the Football Association of Ireland was informed by Uefa that no national anthems would be played, or flags flown, prior to the game.

“The Uefa decision was made on foot of information received by the police, the match venue and the Irish Football Association around safety concerns.”

Asked if there had been a threat, the PSNI responded: “The decision that neither national anthem be played or flag be flown before the game was a decision made solely by UEFA, not the PSNI.”