Saturday, February 27, 2010
Cynical IFA attempt to block Irish players international future
Yet again the Irish Football Association is attempting to stop players born in the North of Ireland from having an international career with their country.
They have announced that they have approached the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a bid to stop players born in the North from representing Trapattoni’s Ireland.
In recent years FIFA have found in favour of the FAI on this issue, stating that people born in the North are Irish citizens and so have the right to represent Ireland at international level.
This latest cynical attempt at blocking players representing Ireland is causing outrage within the Nationalist community in the North and is likely to further damage the reputation of the IFA who have long been accused of turning a blind eye to the rapid sectarianism that infested the terraces and stands at Windsor Park throughout the last four decades. Following the death threats and sectarian chanting directed at Neil Lennon a number of years ago and the potential withdrawal of sponsors, the IFA introduced a programme to try and address the sectarian issues, and while it has had some success, the IFA have failed to address the issue of the English anthem and unionist flag being used at international games, despite their pronouncements of creating a neutral environment for supporters.
Speaking to the Irish news yesterday, the FAI’s Director of communications Peter Sherrard said “Our position would be that FIFA have already found in our favour in a number of cases like this and so any appeal against the FAI would effectively be an appeal against FIFA’a previous decisions".
The IFA decision has also prompted a political response from parties representing the Nationalist population in the North. Sinn Fein’s Paul Maskey said yesterday “We are aware of this issue and have, and will continue to support the right of Irish players from all over the 32 counties to play for the Irish team. The association (IFA) has not grasped the view, wishes and rights of players who want to play for the republic. We will continue to raise this at every level to ensure that the ruling made by FIFA is the one that is kept”. The SDLP’s PJ Bradley & Alex Attwood are examining the latest move by the IFA and its Fermanagh representative Tommy Gallagher said yesterday “We are definitely supporting those who wish to play for our Country”.
The Irish Football Association need to understand that for a huge number of football supporters and players in the North, the natural home for our international allegiances will always be at Lansdowne Road and not Windsor Park.
Perhaps the IFA president should take off his orange sash for a moment and listen to the players concerned
Marc Wilson “It’s the best honour you can get to represent your country – it’s always been a dream of mine to play for Ireland”
Darron Gibson “It was unbelievable you know, making the debut for your country. Everyone from Derry wants to play for Ireland. I grew up supporting Ireland, so it was a natural choice for me”
Shane Duffy’s Father "Shane told me it has always been his ambition to play for the Republic of Ireland. I for one can't believe that it is now done and I'm delighted. It's always been his childhood dream to play for the Republic"
Another irony of whole eligibility issue is that it didn't stop Nigel Worthington turning the heads of two Manchester United kids, Joe Dudgeon and Oliver Norwood, both of whom played under-age football for England but appear to have chosen the North of Ireland. That's the problem with the IFA's constant spluttering on this issue. They see no problem whatsoever in persuading two English kids to play for the North but lose the plot completely when someone from Derry or Belfast chooses to represent Trapattoni's Ireland. It's a bizarre double standard.