FAI clarify confusion as Ireland U17s mistakenly accused of turning backs on Israeli flag

Israeli journalists confuse Irish tradition of turning to face the flag during Amhrán na bhFiann for turning their back on the Israel flag

The Republic of Ireland’s under-17 women’s team is through to the next qualifying phase for this year’s European Championships after their 3-0 victory over Israel in Tirana on Friday. The result added to Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Albania, sealing top spot in Ireland’s three-nation group.

Shamrock Rovers’ Anna Butler gave Ireland the lead in the eighth minute before Lucy O’Rourke of Shelbourne doubled 12 minutes in to the second half. Israel were down to 10 players for the last 25 minutes of the game after Ella Setton received a second yellow card, Shira Carmeli scoring an own goal in injury time to wrap up the game for Ireland.

There was no shortage of fake news on social media after the game with claims by, amongst others, Israeli reporters Elad Simchayoff and Asaf Ackerman that the Irish team turned their backs while the Israeli national anthem was played. This was untrue - they turned to face their own flag when Amhrán na bhFiann was played, as they always do. Screenshots from the YouTube coverage of the game showed them facing in a different direction to the Israeli team were spread and misinterpreted as them protesting against their opponent’s anthem.

“I’m very happily correcting a mistaken post as the Irish football association clarifies that the U17 girls football team was not protesting while the Israeli anthem was played and the Israeli association confirms. Sport won,” Simchayoff later wrote.


The Football Association of Ireland later issued a statement to correct the “misinterpretation” that the team had turned their back during Israel’s anthem. “Both teams were facing in the same direction during the Israeli national anthem before the Ireland team turned to face the tricolour, as is tradition amongst many Irish teams, for the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann before turning back to conclude the usual pre-match protocols.”

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Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times