FSF Statement on England chants in Turin

FSF Statement on England chants in Turin (Tuesday 31st March):

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) reaffirms its opposition to any type of discriminatory, racist or abusive chanting.

The support that the England team enjoys – particularly away from home – is the envy of most of the rest of the football world. It is our belief that this is deployed to best effect when getting behind the team; songs about the IRA or World War Two simply don’t serve that purpose, and cause unnecessary offence to many.

Racist and discriminatory chanting is illegal; the advice that we have received however is that anti-IRA and World War II-related chanting does not fall foul of the law and would be unlikely to lead to successful prosecutions under the current legislation. Knee-jerk calls for bans or a “clampdown” are therefore unlikely to deliver any meaningful productive outcome.

The FSF are not recent converts to this issue. As far back as 2005, we wrote in Free Lions (edition 46, England v Colombia):

What is it about England fans that despite being amongst the best and most vocal supporters in the world, who don’t just sing when we’re winning, we’ve got such a small repertoire of songs… We have songs that are patriotic, and then some that are controversial - at best divisive and at worst offensive. But precious few about football, which is what it’s supposed to be all about.