Iceland chant: Seismic Euro 2016 war cry comes from Scotland

Far from having Viking roots, the fans' intimidating chant was stolen from the Scottish Premiership

Fans and team unite to celebrate with Iceland's battle cry after the side's thrashing of England
(Image credit: Lars Baron/ Getty)

It's not only Iceland's footballers who have taken Euro 2016 by storm, its fans have also made their presence felt – or rather, heard.

The supporters' intimidating chant, believed by many to be a Viking war cry, has reverberated around France's stadiums.

It begins with a slow handclap and an accompanying shout of "huh" before gradually gathering pace to fill the air and regularly silence opposition fans.

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With almost 10,000 supporters in France, the battle cry's impact has been described as "seismic" and likened to the haka performed by the New Zealand rugby team.

"Like the oars of a Gokstad ship building up to a battle-like momentum - when the synchronised clap and 'Huh' rise to a spine-tingling crescendo - Iceland is inspired and the opposition frozen," says the Irish Times.


Many observers assume the chant has its origins in Iceland's warrior past, adds the paper, but in fact, it has no links to Scandinavian warriors at all.

"Iceland’s thunder-clap may fit the mould of an old Viking war cry - but it is in fact a celebration with Scottish roots," says the paper.

The chant was picked up from Motherwell supporters in the Scottish Premiership just a couple of years ago.

"Fans of Stjarnan - a Reykjavik-based side who play in the country's highest league - fell in love with the chant during a trip to Motherwell in 2014," explains the Daily Mail.

"The mighty chant, which has no Viking origin, has apparently been performed on the terraces at Fir Park, in North Lanarkshire, for years."


The slow handclap is part of Mothewell's own take on the well-known terrace chant, When I Was Young, but it so impressed the travelling Icelandic fans that they adopted it and it quickly became popular with the national side.

The war cry will get an airing once again in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals on Sunday, when Iceland take on the hosts, France, at the Stade de France.

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