Rangers defied UEFA’s ban on playing the national anthem with a rousing rendition of God Save the King before their Champions League clash with Napoli on Wednesday evening. The Scottish side risked backlash from European football’s governing body to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week.
Chelsea and Manchester City, as well as the Gers, saw special requests denied by UEFA in their first matches since the Queen’s death. Rangers stood defiant regardless, alerting their fans via social media that they planned to go ahead with the show of respect.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be honoured this evening at Ibrox with a minute’s silence, a display created by the Union Bears, and a rendition of the national anthem,” the club wrote on social media. “If you are attending tonight’s match, we encourage all supporters to be in their seat for 19:50.”
A one-minute silence was followed by a whole-hearted portrayal of the national anthem as the decibel level soared around Ibrox.
Fans were determined to follow through with the commitment before gearing up for a crucial tie, having sunk to successive 4-0 defeats this month. A humbling against Ajax last week meant points needed to be put on the board against Napoli, while a painful hammering at the hands of bitter rivals Celtic left manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst to answer tough questions.
The Hoops were in action earlier on Wednesday evening as they took on Shakhtar Donetsk, having lost their opening Champions League clash to Real Madrid. BT Sport were forced to apologise after honing in on an offensive banner that read: “F*** THE CROWN.”
Rangers’ match with Napoli had been pushed back a day due to policing concerns, with the tie originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening. Furthermore, travelling Napoli fans were not permitted at the game in an effort to create a subdued atmosphere with Rangers supporters also prohibited from attending the reverse fixture at the end of October.
UEFA released a statement addressing their decision to reject requests to play God Save the King this week. “There will be no anthems played – this also includes the Uefa Champions League anthem – on the basis of maintaining a consistent pre-match ceremony with a subdued atmosphere and without any celebratory activities across all UK venues to show respect as we did last Thursday,” it said.
The Premier League, meanwhile, have already committed to playing the national anthem before all seven matches this weekend. Liverpool’s showdown with Chelsea and Manchester United’s meeting with Leeds have both been postponed due to policing concerns, while Brighton vs Crystal Palace had already been called off in light of planned rail strikes.
Premier League fans fans have been encouraged to applaud as a mark of respect for the Queen in the 70th minute of matches played this weekend, with images to be shown on the big screens and flags to be flown at half mast.