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Sinn Féin calls on BBC to apologise after aired clip appears to show fans singing 'f*** the Pope'

BBC Northern Ireland has said it was “confident” there was no swearing on the programme, but would not air the clip again.

The BBC Northern Ireland broadcasting house.
The BBC Northern Ireland broadcasting house.
Image: Shutterstock/Claudio Divizia

SINN FÉIN HAS called on the BBC to apologise after a video clip went viral of a television clip which appeared to show soccer fans in Belfast singing ‘f*** the Pope’.

Last night, the BBC featured a report on the Uefa Super Cup match between Chelsea and Villareal, which was held in Belfast.

In that TV report, it showed fans singing Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’, but instead of ‘da, da, da’, the supporters appeared to sing ‘f*** the Pope’.

Following criticism on social media for airing the clip, BBC Northern Ireland said in a statement to the Belfast Telegraph that though it was “confident” that there was no swearing on the programme, it would not air the clip again.

“We are confident that there was no audio of swearing on our programme tonight. However we accept that we cannot be sure of the intentions of everyone in the video and for that reason we will not run the clip again.”

Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has called on the BBC to apologise for the package.

Maskey said: “I was shocked at what appeared to be blatant and naked sectarianism in a clip broadcast as part of a package on the UEFA Super Cup Final in Belfast on BBC Newsline on Wednesday evening.

The broadcast of this offensive chanting and abusive language has caused widespread anger and offence throughout the community.

“There can be no place for such sectarianism in our society.

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“The BBC have confirmed that it does not intend to broadcast the clip again but it should also now act to remove it from the iPlayer to avoid causing further offence.

“The BBC should also now issue an apology for the considerable offence already caused.

“I have written to all MPs representing the North asking them to join me in calling on the BBC to apologise for this incident and have also written directly to the BBC asking for clarity on what happened and a full apology.”

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