Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Shameful FIFA attempt to wheedle out of decision

Irrelevant, incoherent political whining has paid dividends and having initially indicated that their clear eligibility rules would be applied, FIFA are now attempting wheedle out of their decision and foist an illogical, cowardly fudge to avoid the attentions of ethno-nationalists with no interest in international football beyond their disgraceful political agenda.

FIFA have asked the associations for feedback on this deplorable compromise and if Howard Wells and the IFA have a semblance of a spine, they will reject it in no uncertain terms and pledge to defend their position in court if necessary. Wells’ initial reaction to FIFA’s suggestion is encouraging.

"(the suggestion is) totally inconsistent with the body's own rules which apply to the other 206 countries in Fifa".
"I am extremely surprised about this, to say the least, staggered in fact.
"All we are asking is for Fifa to apply their own rules consistently to all members of their organisation.
"This proposal flies in the face of what was said to us just a few weeks ago at a meeting in Zurich."


FIFA’s proposals are that, rather than clarify the eligibility issue by applying existing rules, a completely unprecedented situation should pertain (since the issue was first raised in the 50s at least) whereby both associations can pick players from all 32 Irish counties. FIFA’s statement is couched in mealy mouthed, spineless rhetoric which does little to hide the motivation behind their pathetic back-tracking – attempting to avoid making a clear decision.

"With the objective to find an amicable solution which is acceptable for both member associations the FIFA Legal Committee has made the following new proposal: any player holding the nationality of the Republic of Ireland that was born on the territory of the Republic of Ireland would, by agreement between the two associations, also be eligible for the representative teams of the Irish Football Association.

"In other words, every player born in Northern Ireland, holding the UK nationality and being entitled to a passport of the Republic of Ireland or born in the Republic of Ireland and holding the Irish nationality could either play for the Football Association of Ireland or the Irish Football Association. FIFA has informed the IFA and the FAI about this proposal and asked both associations for a feedback."


This proposal completely undermines FIFA’s own territorial requirements for international eligibility and is legally unsustainable. The organisation clearly hope that the IFA will be mollified by the possibilities of poaching Southern players and that the issue will therefore go away.

This is an example of the worst kind of politicians meddling in sport. Dermot Ahern, Pat Ramsey and the like have managed to undermine football’s governing body and this will set an extremely dangerous precedent. FIFA must know however, that their so-called compromise is neither acceptable, nor is it sustainable. Their own rules are not being applied fairly or consistently and the IFA will have watertight grounds to object to this suggestion should it be sustained as a decision despite their reservations.

As pressure from nationalist politicians has caused FIFA to reconsider their decision, it is vital that unionist politicians now back the IFA.

E-mail the Minister for Culture Edwin Poots:

Edwin.Poots@niassembly.gov.uk

or Northern Ireland supporter and UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy

cllrdanny.kennedy@btinternet.com

Update:


My letter to Danny Kennedy:

Dear Mr Kennedy,



I wrote to you previously regarding the Maze Stadium issue, as a party member and Northern Ireland football fan, congratulating you on your work to highlight the pitfalls of this project and received an extremely detailed and encouraging reply.



I am aware that you are a keen follower of the Northern Ireland team and therefore I am sure you are aware of another issue pertaining to the IFA which has been in the media lately. Having initially received a positive response in their attempts to clarify the eligibility issue whereby the FAI has been poaching Northern Irish players to play for the Republic of Ireland team, the IFA have now been notified of a suggestion by FIFA that players from all 32 counties in Ireland should be eligible to play for either the IFA or the FAI teams.



I’m sure you will agree that this suggestion is an unacceptable fudge and a disgraceful about face from the position FIFA had indicated it would adopt. The reversal is clearly influenced by the constant meddling pressure of nationalist politicians such as Dermot Ahern and Pat Ramsey. FIFA is basically attempting to wheedle out of making a difficult decision due to the politicisation of the issue by nationalists.



If this suggestion becomes a sanctioned ruling, international football in this country has suffered a body blow from which it may never recover. Not only has that, but the very concept of a shared Northern Ireland has itself suffered a blow. If this suggestion is enforced as a decision, it threatens to segregate football here. The agenda of nationalist politicians is to dilute the sense that the Irish identity can be included in Northern Irish institutions and exacerbate the situation whereby northern nationalists cleave to southern institutions. Their agenda (if successful) will not only have an effect on our sport, it will also increase division in society and politically it attempts to limit the cultural and sporting shared spaces which the two communities can inhabit.



Football is an important part of our culture and matters a great deal to people on both sides of the religious divide. I feel therefore, that it is absolutely necessary to redress the balance and for unionist politicians to back the Irish Football Association to the hilt on this issue. These are the types of issues which ultimately will dictate whether Northern Ireland is a success or a failure. As a unionist politician with a special interest in football, and with a supporter’s commitment to the Northern Ireland team, I urge you to publicly take issue with the fudge which FIFA wishes the associations to adopt and to back the IFA in whatever way you can in whatever actions they decide to take against this ridiculous “compromise”.



Regards,



Danny Kennedy's response:

Owen,

Many thanks for your message - I agree with all your points and have done so publically via the News Letter. I also will be requesting an urgent meeting with Howard Wells and the IFA, to keep the pressure on them to oppose the FIFA ruling. I will endeavour to keep you informed of events, feel free to stay in touch

Best wishes

Danny Kennedy

No response from Mr Poots. Quelle surprise.

2 comments:

O'Neill said...

I wouldn't hold out much hope with Poots, but I'll certainly beb getting in touch with Danny Kennedy, thanks for that.

If it does go through, FIFA will have opned basically a barndoor for many other mixed nationality/ethnic areas in Europe.

Might be an idea collecting some contact details for a few European FAs, just as a precaution......I'm sute there would be a few very interested officials in the outcome of this case.

Chekov said...

Dear Mr Kennedy,



I wrote to you previously regarding the Maze Stadium issue, as a party member and Northern Ireland football fan, congratulating you on your work to highlight the pitfalls of this project and received an extremely detailed and encouraging reply.



I am aware that you are a keen follower of the Northern Ireland team and therefore I am sure you are aware of another issue pertaining to the IFA which has been in the media lately. Having initially received a positive response in their attempts to clarify the eligibility issue whereby the FAI has been poaching Northern Irish players to play for the Republic of Ireland team, the IFA have now been notified of a suggestion by FIFA that players from all 32 counties in Ireland should be eligible to play for either the IFA or the FAI teams.



I’m sure you will agree that this suggestion is an unacceptable fudge and a disgraceful about face from the position FIFA had indicated it would adopt. The reversal is clearly influenced by the constant meddling pressure of nationalist politicians such as Dermot Ahern and Pat Ramsey. FIFA is basically attempting to wheedle out of making a difficult decision due to the politicisation of the issue by nationalists.



If this suggestion becomes a sanctioned ruling, international football in this country has suffered a body blow from which it may never recover. Not only has that, but the very concept of a shared Northern Ireland has itself suffered a blow. If this suggestion is enforced as a decision, it threatens to segregate football here. The agenda of nationalist politicians is to dilute the sense that the Irish identity can be included in Northern Irish institutions and exacerbate the situation whereby northern nationalists cleave to southern institutions. Their agenda (if successful) will not only have an effect on our sport, it will also increase division in society and politically it attempts to limit the cultural and sporting shared spaces which the two communities can inhabit.



Football is an important part of our culture and matters a great deal to people on both sides of the religious divide. I feel therefore, that it is absolutely necessary to redress the balance and for unionist politicians to back the Irish Football Association to the hilt on this issue. These are the types of issues which ultimately will dictate whether Northern Ireland is a success or a failure. As a unionist politician with a special interest in football, and with a supporter’s commitment to the Northern Ireland team, I urge you to publicly take issue with the fudge which FIFA wishes the associations to adopt and to back the IFA in whatever way you can in whatever actions they decide to take against this ridiculous “compromise”.



Regards,

I have sent that missive to Danny Kennedy, who was certainly responsive to a previous letter regarding the stadium debate.

I have also e-mailed Poots. Any FA e-mails would be useful O'Neill.

And for what its worth the issue is to be raised by Cllr Neill Armstrong in Ballymena Council tomorrow night.