20/02/2013

Crusaders Call For End To Flag Protests

North Belfast football club Crusaders have called for an end to union flag protests around their stadium, after a game against Cliftonville last Saturday was cancelled.

The match, which would have seen predominantly protestant club Crusaders play the predominantly Catholic north Belfast club Cliftonville, was called off due to a union flag protest outside the ground.

Two men and a woman have been charged in relation to the protests.

Crusaders released a statement on their website which said: "Our club is owned by fans and run by fans."

"It is a matter of great pride for our club that our membership, employees, volunteers, players and supporters come from all sections of the community. That is the way things have always been at Crusaders and it is the way it will remain.

"Our facilities are used by the whole community including local schools, dance clubs, marching bands, community groups, cross community organisations, local charities, and local businesses.

"Politics play no part in sport, and we would urge flag protestors and others to desist from engaging in flag protests in the proximity of our stadium.

"We are requesting that our members, supporters, local residents, community groups, schools, churches, politicians, sporting bodies, and all other interested parties use all their influence to put an end to flag protests in the environs of our stadium."

A small 'white line' flag protest had been allowed to take place for about 40 minutes on Saturday afternoon.

But the game was eventually called off due to safety concerns.

The statement ended: "It is our contention that this game should be played at Seaview at the earliest possible opportunity and we know we have the support of Cliftonville FC and the wider football family in that regard.

"Finally we would like to apologise to any football supporters or local residents who were inconvenienced last Saturday."

(IT)

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