The organising committee of the UEFA Women’s Under-19 Football Championship last night insisted the war memorial at Glenavon’s Mourneview Park ground in Lurgan “will not be covered up” during tournament games.
It was claimed yesterday the painted tribute will be hidden during upcoming matches because of football’s governing body UEFA regulations on emblems at football stadiums.
It was claimed UEFA requirements place a strict stipulation on the Irish Football Association (IFA) to adhere to UEFA policy on the display of emblems.
This was going to entail a temporary screen being placed around the memorial ahead of the Under-21 European Championship match against Albania on August 31.
In a statement last night the organising committee said: “Following concerns raised by representatives of the local community, the organisers of the Women’s Under-19 Championship decided that the war memorial at Mourneview Park would not be covered during the tournament.
“Other measures, including low screens, will be used instead to ensure that the ground complies with international tournament regulations.”
Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer earlier said it was a matter for UEFA and the IFA.
“The IFA visited have visited the ground and said it needs to be covered, under UEFA instructions,” he said. “Glenavon were not involved in it. The IFA takes over the ground for these matches. They are responsible for the overall organisation of them and ensuring that they are compliant with all the UEFA regulations. We as the host club don’t have a say in the matter.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie yesterday described the UEFA rule as “stupid”.
He said: “It is a sad day when a nation cannot remember its dead with dignity and in keeping with its country’s traditions. UEFA should be mindful that their freedom to run an all-encompassing football competition...was built on the shoulders of men and women who gave their lives so that the likes of UEFA can have that freedom.”
Mr Beattie added: “Instead of spending their time enforcing stupid rules that encroach on a country’s ability to remember their past and the sacrifice of their people, they should instead focus on the eradication of the sectarianism and racism that still blights the beautiful game in many parts of Europe.”