Ireland soccer team sorry after players sing pro-IRA chant

DUBLIN (AP) — The coach of Ireland’s women’s soccer team apologized Wednesday after her players sang a pro-IRA chant in the locker room after qualifying for the World Cup for the first time.

Video footage of the chant circulated on social media after the 1-0 victory over Scotland in the playoffs at Hampden Park on Tuesday.

Ireland coach Vera Pauw apologized “from the bottom of our hearts to anyone who has been offended by the content of the post-match celebrations.”

“We will review this with the players and remind them of their responsibilities in this regard,” Pauw said. “I have spoken with players this morning and we are sorry collectively for any hurt caused, there can be no excuse for that.”

The Football Association of Ireland also issued an apology “for any offense caused by a song sung by players.”

Support for the IRA, or Irish Republican Army, remains controversial amid efforts to heal the wounds left by decades of sectarian violence known as “The Troubles.”

While some see the IRA as freedom fighters in the campaign to reunify Ireland, others decry its role in attacks that killed nearly 1,800 people as militants sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland. Most militants renounced violence after the 1998 agreement that brought peace to the island, but occasional bombings and shootings are still attributed to IRA dissidents.

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