Tuesday, 11 December 2007

UUP lead the way on football eligibility row

The eligibility issue is raised at Stormont this morning in a motion proposed by David McNarry and Danny Kennedy of the Ulster Unionist Party. The debate is a timely reminder that FIFA’s Executive Committee meets this weekend and are likely to formalise a decision on the matter.

If the Executive Committee’s decision is along the lines of the proposal FIFA advanced to the two Football Associations, this motion will become especially pertinent. FIFA’s proposal is a shameful abrogation of responsibility which threatens to create football apartheid in Ireland. It is vital that if this proposal is ratified and enforced then the IFA should be given every encouragement from politicians and the public to fight the decision through FIFA’s own appeal process and in courts if necessary.

Effective voluntary segregation would be an appalling road to go down, whether on the sports field or in other aspects of life. Yet the twin nationalisms carve-up lends itself to just such a tendency. Misreading the Good Friday Agreement to propose that recognising the Irish and British national identities in Northern Ireland allows both access to separate institutions is an insidious argument. This issue is about protecting the Northern Ireland football team specifically, but it also embodies a will to protect shared spaces in a wider context.

Proposed: That this Assembly opposes the recent eligibility proposal outlined by FIFA; believes it has the potential to cause serious harm to international soccer relations on the island of Ireland; and calls upon the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to assist the Irish Football Association in opposing the ratification of this unfair and unjust proposal

1 comment:

O'Neill said...

I tried to post something a bit longer earlier but blogger spewed it out...anyway....

In summary, it's interesting there are no unofficial, official leaks from the IFA this time, which makes me think that the decision has gone against us...hopefully however it will be clearly apparent that the decision is being pushed through against the IFA's wishes, as opposed to it being sold as a privately negotiated deal which has no relevance similar situations throughout the world.

If it's "forced" through, then FIFA will have had to alter the rule book opening the door for challenges from all over the world. This schadenfreude is the nest we can hope for at the minute, i fear.