THE Irish Football Association (IFA) has turned down a request from Cliftonville FC to ditch the UK's national anthem from Saturday's Irish Cup Final.
Cliftonville, who have a mostly Catholic fanbase, had written to the IFA asking them not to play 'God Save The Queen' ahead of kick-off against Coleraine at Windsor Park tomorrow.
However, the Association confirmed they had rejected the request in a statement today.
An IFA spokesperson said: “Following a written request from Cliftonville Football club, the Board of the Irish Football Association met tonight (3 May), and considered the playing of the National Anthem at the Irish Cup final.
“The members expressed sympathy for Cliftonville's position, but decided that the current Board policy, agreed in August 2013, should stand.
“Therefore, the National Anthem will be played before the match.”
In 2013, the IFA agreed to drop the anthem before that year's cup final between Cliftonville and Glentoran to help foster a “politically neutral environment”.
The IFA had taken the same decision before an Irish Cup Final in 2009 between Cliftonville and Crusaders, but the decision to do so again in 2013 was met with protests by the DUP and UUP.
Cliftonville released a brief statement today in response to the IFA’s decision, which read: “Cliftonville Football Club note tonight’s Irish Football Association statement following the decision of the majority of the IFA Board in regards to the playing of an anthem at this year’s Irish Cup Final.
“We will be making no further comment until after the final.”
The Irish Cup Final 2018 between Clinftonville and Coleraine kicks off at Windsor Park tomorrow at 2.30pm.