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FOOTBALL Poles mourn after Irish fan James Nolan’s death

Hundreds gather to pay their respects to 21-year old, whose body was found by the river

AFP
June 22, 2012

Warsaw: Hundreds of residents of the north-western Polish city of Bydgoszcz gathered on Thursday along the river where a young Irish football fan died early Sunday in an outpouring of sympathy with his mourning family.

Flowers, candles and photos of 21-year-old James Nolan adorned with black ribbons lined an area of a bank of the river Brda, where his body was recovered Wednesday morning after an intense three-day police search.

The Irishman had come to Poland with friends for Euro 2012.

They reported him missing on Sunday afternoon when he failed to return to their hotel after breaking off from the group on their Saturday night out watching football and drinking at a pub in the Bydgoszcz city centre.

Bydgoszcz Mayor Rafal Bruski has asked Uefa President Michel Platini for a minute’s silence to be observed at a stadium ahead of one of the upcoming quarter-finals in memory of the Irish fan.

“It would be a symbolic gesture of respect from all of us, showing that in such moments the great football family is united,” Bruski wrote in a Wednesday letter to Platini.

“Let us pay tribute to the Irish — the best supporters of the tournament, and let it be a day of solidarity with those who are the most affected by this untimely death,” Bruski added in a separate public declaration.

“An Irish flag flew at half mast in front of city hall, and green-white-orange flags will adorn the historic city centre where the tragedy occurred,” Bydgoszcz city hall spokesman Piotr Kurek said on Thursday.

“This is not entirely consistent with official protocol, but we wanted to express our solidarity with Ireland,” he added.

Thousands of Irish fans flooded into Poland to support their national team at Euro 2012. Ireland played their final match on Monday in Poznan, losing 2-0 to Italy, to return home pointless.

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