FIFA purport to be world football’s governing body. That being the case they have displayed a remarkable disinclination to govern as regards the eligibility dispute. Initially FIFA indicated that the loophole whereby the FAI was poaching Northern Ireland footballers would be closed. Following political pressure exerted by Dermot Ahern and the Republic of Ireland’s government, FIFA then indicated they might rule that both associations could pick any player from the 32 counties of Ireland’s two states.
The IFA could not accept this proposal for reasons that have been repeated on this blog so many times I’m actually beginning to bore myself. It should then have fallen to FIFA to make a definite decision on the matter at the Executive Committee meeting in Tokyo at the weekend. Remembering that the issue arose after the IFA sought clarification on FIFA’s rules it is scarcely believable that the response runs as follows:
“The Executive Committee decided to leave the current regulations regarding the eligibility of players to represent association teams unchanged.”
In other words FIFA have avoided the issue. Their spokesman indicated that should a dispute arise between the two associations in future that it should be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. This confirms indubitably the suspicion that FIFA wished to abdicate responsibility for resolving the matter.
Predictably the IFA and their breakaway association counterparts are interpreting FIFA’s statement very differently. Indeed the true Ireland team’s association have said that they are awaiting clarification from FIFA, so we truly are back to square 1.
The IFA’s motivation in raising the Darron Gibson case was in order to challenge circumstances which already pertain – i.e. the FAI are poaching Northern Ireland born players and fielding them in their representative sides. FIFA have declined the opportunity to redress this ridiculous situation. It seems that until the matter is taken to the CAS, the FAI will continue to exploit the Republic of Ireland’s aggressive irredentist citizenship laws and selectively target nationalist footballers born in Northern Ireland on the basis that they hold Republic of Ireland passports.