Rangers fans sang the UK national anthem ahead of their Napoli clash at Ibrox, with Ally McCoist saying it would be “embarrassing” if action was taken against them for it.
The Scottish club paid tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in their first game since her death at the age of 96 with a moving tribute ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League tie.
Rangers, a club known to be pro-royalist, had asked UEFA to play the national anthem after a minute’s silence in honor of the late Queen.
However, those requests were turned down, with UEFA saying the decision was made for consistency with them having already decided not to play the competition’s anthem as a mark of respect.
But Rangers still opted to play the national anthem through the Ibrox PA system, with fans duly joining.
A mosaic of Her Majesty was displayed shortly before the two teams entered the field. Chants of Rule Britannia were also heard in the stands as the two groups of players stood in the tunnel.
A period of silence in memory of Elizabeth II was then impeccably observed before the national anthem was played and sung spiritedly by the fans, as Rangers defied UEFA’s orders.
UEFA will now consider taking action against the club for playing the anthem, but Gers legend McCoist says it would be “ridiculous” if they did.
“If it breaks the rules, I would actively encourage it. It was fantastic,” he said on talkSPORT.
“It wasn’t even good, it wasn’t even brilliant, what a show of unity for the country – it was amazing. Rangers fans, a bunch of guys called the Union Bears, put on a Union Jack, honestly…
“I have to say the Napoli players were fantastic around the center circle and the national anthem was sung by everyone in the stadium. It was really heartwarming, honestly, to see all the unity of the fans and players.
“I don’t know if any action will be taken. How could I find it? I would find it a bit embarrassing if UEFA punished a team for singing their national anthem.
“It should also be said that if it is not special circumstances, I do not know what is. Maybe UEFA misinterpreted the public to some extent.
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“On an occasion like this maybe it’s better to say ‘sure’ and to some extent let the club do what they want to do. I mean they sang the national anthem four or five days after the loss of the monarch who reigned for 70 years.
“I certainly don’t have a problem with that. It was a privilege to be there, honestly. It was fantastic. It was a great show of unity for people who wanted to pay their respects to the queen and those who wanted to show their support for the new king.
While McCoist liked the show of unity off the pitch, it didn’t go so well for Rangers on the pitch against Napoli.
There was plenty of drama as ten-man Gers were beaten 3-0, where penalties were the story of the game.
Returning keeper Allan McGregor saved a retaken Piotr Zielinksi kick within the hour after Gers defender James Sands was sent off for conceding it, before being beaten 12 yards in the 67th minute by Matteo Politano.
Giacomo Raspador added a second five minutes from time and fellow substitute Tanguy Ndombele grabbed a third in added time to add to Gers’ misery.