Saturday, July 10, 2010

FAI vs. IFA - European Court of Arbitration for Sport

On Monday 19 July the Irish Football Association will take the Football Association of Ireland to the European Court of Arbitration for Sport in a final and desperate attempt to deny Irish citizens from the North the opportunity to represent their country.

Unionists argue that if a player born in Northern Ireland has no links with the Republic of Ireland (parent/grandparent born there) should not be allowed to play with this "foreign country". They already have a small player pool and with half of their professional footballers declaring for the ROI team, this will have a detrimental affect on their team.

Nationalists argue that the GFA allows them an automatic right to Irish citizenship and therefore they should not be prevented from playing for their country in which they hold citizenship or at the very least they should be entitled to the choice.

Darron Gibson, Marc Wilson and Shane Duffy are examples of high profile footballers who have made the switch from playing underage football with NI to declare for the Ireland senior squad. The Ireland underage squads also have numerous northern based players in their squads.

The problem for these players, other than not wanting to play for a country that does not represent them is that the IFA is a British football association which is supported almost exclusively by Unionists. The anthem is God Save the Queen, the flag is the unionist unofficial flag of Northern Ireland, complete with crown. The stadium Windsor Park is located in a staunchly loyalist area of Belfast and union jacks can be seen on match days. Add to this the sectarian abuse that catholic players have received in the past including death threats to former Celtic F.C captain and current manager Neil Lennon and it is not difficult to see why more and more northern players are declaring for Ireland.

Many of the teams supporters argue that things have changed and that sectarian abuse of catholics is a thing of the past. This is open to debate. While the IFA must be commended for their 'Football for All' initiative to rid itself of sectarianism, it was only last year that NI played Poland in Windsor Park. It is well documented the abuse that Artur Boruc received as were the riots that ensued with the Polish supporters. Now it is no secret that Polish fans have a hooligan element. However the fact that Boruc was the Celtic goalkeeper at the time and the fact that Polish fans are predominantly Catholic, does call in to question if sectarianism was not an element in the trouble that day.

This will be the IFAs thrid attempt to block nationalist players playing for their country. Twice they have gone to FIFA and twice they have been told where to go. On Monday week I expect the CAS to send the IFA home with their tail between their legs. They will not ignore FIFAs two previous rulings nor will they defy or violate an internationally binding agreement between two sovereign nations. This blog will return to this issue after the ruling.


  1. Does anyone actually believe any of this shite?

  2. I cant speak for anyone other than myself. You will have to be more specific. Is there something you do not believe?

  3. that Windsor Park is in east Belfast and Boruc is spelled Boric

  4. "Windsor Park in Loyalist east Belfast" Would that be the Windsor Park in South Belfast, and "Loyalist" East Belfast with an Alliance Party MP?

  5. is this a spoof of the Ulster's Doomed blog?

    if so it's very good

  6. God forbid that the rules that apply to every other association in FIFA apply to the Republic of Ireland as well.
    That's just not fair!

  7. So Jerry, will you be returning to the other inaccuracies after the ruling or will you continue to promote the same old nonsense? I guess if some hear it often enough, they may start believing it.

    In the meantime I am away to hand back my blockbooking in case these 'hardline loyalists' attack me at the next game lol.

  8. Which inaccuracies? I have no problem editing if you point them out.

  9. What inaccuracies?? hows about trying to make it sound like Boruc was abused at Windsor Park simply because he was Catholic, which is nonsense all opposition goalkeepers get stick which is not sectarian at Windsor Park no matter what their religion, its what happens at football grounds.
    Another inaccuracy is your attempt to make it appear that the Poland supporters were involved in a riot situation because they were Catholic, pure nonsense hard core hooligans came to Belfast to fight anyone who got in their way, a simple google search will show the history of Polish hooliganism and another point how do you even know the Polish fans were all Catholic, there are plenty of athesists and even Protestants in Poland aswell.

  10. What the connection between the IFA/FAI hangbag dispute and the constitutional position I cannot fathom.

    It seems that the whole soccer incident between northern Irish and Polish fans was little more than conventional (sic.) football hooliganism. There's very little in the way of evidence to suggest that is was primarily religiously or politically inspired.

    The Irish FA has a fair point over the FA of Ireland. Like it or love it, Irish football is as partitioned as is politically the island upon which is played. There is no team called "Ireland" - it's the "Republic of Ireland".

    What they say would be logical if it weren't for Derry. As Derry playing in the southern league, I think, is the single biggest reason why this issue cannot be resolved. I'm guessing that if Derry was still in the northern league then FIFA would have ruled in favour of the IrishFA's possition.

    Your comparison between Irish citizenship and the FAI is untenable. Everyone from Northern Ireland has the right to an Irish passport. But, the Southern soccer team is exactly that. The IrishFA is an Irish team. One of two. Asking a player to represent her/his jurisdiction is not something that usually creates any fuss.

    This would only be the case if players were required to be in posession of a current UK passport, which to be honest I haven't a clue about.

    The rugby, cricket, basketball, hockey teams represent the island/country/land/nation (delete as preferred) as a whole. This isn't the case in soccer. One can question of the merrits of this if one wants, but that is largely irrelevant to the IrishFA's point, which, things currently being as they presently are, bears weight.


  11. More bad news for Rupert Murdoch.