Mayor of Paris to honour football fans from both sides of Irish border
Football fans from across Ireland are to be honoured by the mayor of Paris today for exemplary sportsmanship.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced plans for supporters from Northern Ireland and the Republic to be given the city’s most prestigious award, known as the Grand Vermeil, because of the way they had behaved.
Northern Ireland’s unofficial anthem Will Grigg’s On Fire has been on the lips of many French people in recent weeks as the Green and White Army (GAWA) swamped the squares and pubs near the Eiffel Tower.
Weeks of celebrations gained Irish fans a whole new legion of supporters in Europe for their high spirits and sense of fun.
A statement from the mayor’s office said: “Amongst the three million spectators who came to Paris for Euro 2016, the Irish and Northern Irish fans distinguished themselves by their exemplary attitude.
“Whether on the streets of Paris or in the stadium, Irish fans were able to support their teams to the very end in a remarkable way, providing Parisians and visitors from all over Europe with an unforgettable memory of friendly, happy and unexpected shared moments.”
The Grand Vermeil was created in 1911 to recognise individuals or groups.
Among the names on the roll call are tennis champion Rafa Nadal, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.
It is not the first honour for Irish supporters.
On the back of their performances in Poland four years ago, Uefa president Michel Platini announced a special award to recognise their great behaviour and contribution to the championships.
It was dedicated to the memory of James Nolan, an Irish fan who drowned in the river Brda in the city of Bydgoszcz during the competition in June 2012.
During this year’s tournament, Northern Ireland’s travelling support mourned the death of fan Darren Rodgers when he fell from a promenade in Nice after his team’s opening fixture of the Euros. Another follower collapsed and died in the Stade de Lyon during victory over Ukraine.
The teams went out of the tournament following last-16 fixtures against Wales and France.