GLASGOW (Reuters) – Scottish club Rangers defied UEFA on Wednesday by playing Britain’s national anthem ahead of their Champions League match against Napoli as a mark of respect for Queen Elizabeth after her death last week.
Rangers, Manchester City and Chelsea had requested to be able to play the anthem before their Wednesday evening matches but European football’s governing body turned them down, according to Sky.
Before kickoff at Ibrox, however, an impeccably observed minute’s silence was followed by a rousing rendition of ‘God Save the King’ from the 50,000 fans packed into the ground.
Fans in the Broomloan Road stand also held up cards to create a vast mosaic of the queen’s profile on the background of the Union Flag above a banner reading “1926 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022”.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was honoured at Ibrox this evening with a minute’s silence, a display created by the Union Bears, and a rendition of the national anthem,” read a post on the club’s official website.
Rangers lost 3-0 to Napoli to fall to their second straight defeat in the group.
The British flag and loyalty 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 their Champions League match in Warsaw.
UEFA said in a statement to Sky Sports News that no anthems were being played in order to maintain a “consistent pre-match ceremony with a subdued atmosphere and without any celebratory activities across all UK venues to show respect as we did last Thursday.”
A minute’s silence was also observed before the matches at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and at the City of Manchester Stadium with banners honouring the late monarch also on display at those grounds.
Britain is in the midst of a period of mourning for Elizabeth, who reigned for seven decades until her death last Thursday and will be buried on Monday.
(Writing by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)