Rangers fans sung the British national anthem ahead of their clash against Napoli at Ibrox, with Ally McCoist declaring it would be “embarrassing” if any action was taken against them for doing so.
The Scottish club honoured Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in their first game since her death at the age of 96 with an emotional tribute ahead of the Champions League tie on Wednesday night.
Rangers, a club known for being pro-royalist, had made requests to UEFA to play the national anthem after a minute’s silence in honour of the late Queen.
However, those requests were turned down with UEFA saying the decision was made for the purposes of consistency with them already deciding not to play the competition’s anthem as a sign of respect.
But Rangers opted to play the national anthem anyway across the Ibrox PA system, with the fans duly joining in.
A mosaic of Her Majesty was displayed shortly before both teams walked onto the pitch. Chants of Rule Britannia were also heard across the stands while both sets of players were stood in the tunnel.
A period’s silence in memory of Elizabeth II was then impeccably observed before the national anthem was played and belted out with gusto by supporters, as Rangers defied UEFA orders.
UEFA will now consider whether to take any action against the club for playing the anthem but Gers legend McCoist said it would ‘ridiculous’ if they did.
“If that’s breaking the rules, I would actively encourage it. It was fantastic,” he declared on talkSPORT.
“It wasn’t even good, it wasn’t even brilliant, what a show of unity for the country – it was amazing. The Rangers supporters, a group of lads called the Union Bears, put on a Union Jack, honestly…
“I’ve got to say, the Napoli players were fantastic round the centre circle and the national anthem was sung by everybody in the stadium. It was actually heartwarming, honestly, to see all the unity from supporters and players alike.
“I don’t know if there’s going to be any action taken. How would I find it? I would find it a little bit embarrassing if UEFA punished a team for singing their national anthem.
“You’d have to say, as well, if that’s not special circumstances, I don’t know what is. Maybe UEFA have misread the audience to a certain degree.
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“On an occasion like that, you’re maybe better saying ‘of course’ and, to a certain degree, let the club do what they want to do. I mean, they’ve 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 it. 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 support to the new King.”
While McCoist loved 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 goalkeeper Allan McGregor saved a retaken Piotr Zielinksi spot-kick on the hour after Gers defender James Sands was sent off conceding it, before he was beaten from 12 yards in the 67th minute by Matteo Politano.
Giacomo Raspador added a second with five minutes remaining and fellow substitute Tanguy Ndombele grabbed a third in added time to compound Gers’ misery.