Scottish club Rangers defied UEFA on Wednesday by playing the British national anthem before their Champions League match against Napoli as a tribute to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth after her death last week.
Rangers, Manchester City and Chelsea had all requested to be allowed to sing the national anthem before Wednesday night’s matches but were turned down by European football’s governing body, according to Sky.
However, before kick-off at Ibrox, an impeccably observed minute’s silence was followed by a laudatory rendition of ‘God Save the King’ by the 50,000 fans packed into the ground.
Fans in the Broomloan Road stand also held up cards to create a wide mosaic of the Queen’s profile against a Union Flag background above a banner reading ‘1926 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022’.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was honored at Ibrox this evening with a minute’s silence, a demonstration by the Union Bears and the playing of the national anthem,” read a statement on the club’s official website.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was honored at Ibrox this evening with a minute’s silence, a display by the Union Bears and the singing of the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/20NHhxghMp
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) September 14, 2022
Rangers lost 3-0 to Napoli to suffer their second straight group defeat.
The British flag and allegiance to the monarch are central to Rangers’ traditional identity as a unionist club.
Their city rivals Celtic are closely identified with the Irish republican movement and banners mocking Elizabeth and the monarchy were displayed by fans at a Champions League match in Warsaw.
UEFA said in a statement to Sky Sports News that the anthems were not played to maintain “a consistent pre-match ceremony with a low-key atmosphere and without any celebratory events at all British venues to show respect, as was the case last Thursday”.
A minute’s silence was also observed before the matches at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and the City of Manchester Stadium, with banners in honor of the late monarch also displayed at those grounds.
Britain is in the midst of a period of mourning for Elizabeth, who ruled for seven decades before her death last Thursday and will be buried on Monday.