European football’s governing body has banned British clubs from playing the national anthem in honor of the late Queen Elizabeth II at all Champions League and Europa League matches played in Britain this week, sparking outrage from both the clubs and wider public.
Manchester City, Chelsea, and Rangers are all understood to have asked UEFA’s permission to play ‘God Save The King’ ahead of their group matches in the United Kingdom on Wednesday evening, but the governing body has rejected calls to do so.
A UEFA spokesman said: “There will be no anthems played . . . on the basis of maintaining a consistent pre-match ceremony with a subdued atmosphere…”
It is understood that Rangers, the Glaswegian club that historically has been staunchly pro-Union, will defy UEFA and play the anthem anyway, after an initial period of silence to reflect on the late Queen’s passing. It is not known whether Chelsea, which also has historic ties to the monarchy through the Chelsea Pensioners, will follow suit.
Clubs that do defy UEFA’s orders may be punished by the governing body and could face a fine.
Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, was quoted in MailOnline as saying: “This behavior by UEFA is completely unreasonable. The teams and their supporters would welcome the chance to celebrate our new monarch. In Britain, the monarch is above politics.”
“If UEFA can get it wrong, they will. How can there be any good reason to ban the national anthem?” asked former culture secretary, David Mellor.
Brexiteer and conservative commentator, Nigel Farage, tweeted: “Time we threatened to leave European football. Without us, they would be nothing.”
Keen football fan and ex-sports minister, Tracey Crouch, was also bemused by the inconsistencies in UEFA’s approach: “UEFA’s president last week expressed his sincere condolences at the Queen’s death, calling her one of the world’s most respected figures. This week, they are banning the opportunity for fans to belt out the anthem in recognition of her passing.”
Football’s governing bodies have long been overly conservative in their approach to what clubs are allowed to display, calling them political gestures. In 2016, the English and Scottish national teams were both fined for displaying a poppy on their black armbands as an act of remembrance for those who have died in conflict.