Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Irish FA must boycott Celtic and Setanta Cups until FAI stop poaching underage players

It was difficult to envisage Northern Ireland’s friendly with Albania generating any type of controversy before Nigel Worthington announced his squad. Now the eligibility issue has once again been sparked by Shane Duffy’s decision to reject inclusion in the panel.

The Everton youngster advanced through the various IFA underage teams, played for the B team and even featured as a substitute in a friendly against Italy, last year. That game seems to have served as a bone of contention. The 18 year old warmed up, but did not enter the fray.

There is still a degree of ambiguity about FIFA’s rules. But Sepp Blatter appeared, last March, to confirm that segregated Irish football teams had the governing body’s go-ahead. Whether the statutes are being applied consistently has not been established beyond doubt.

Duffy is, in any case, a different case to Darron Gibson, or to Mark Wilson, another Northern Irish player selected in the latest Republic squad. He has a parent and a grandparent from the Republic of Ireland, which underpins his eligibility.

The issue here is that a player who progressed through the Northern Ireland setup, taking advantage of its coaching, resources and expertise, is at the last minute poached by the FAI. It is a disgraceful situation.

Certainly the IFA should investigate whichever legal avenues it feels might be available to it. However, its chanced of success, in this instance, are minimal.

The least the organisation should do is launch a protest and review its cosy relationship with the breakaway association (FAI).

There are already discussions taking place amongst Northern Ireland supporters about a boycott of the Celtic Cup tournament, which is due to take place in Dublin, starting next February.

It would send a signal that the IFA considers poaching to be a serious infringement of sportsmanship and neighbourly relations, if it were to withdraw its team from the competition altogether.

And the Setanta Cup, which features club teams from both Irish jurisdictions, is already in a mess. IFA affiliated clubs should be asked to pull out immediately.

If the IFA is serious about ending the FAI’s pursual of its underage players, now is the time to act.

2 comments:

O'Neill said...

The least the organisation should do is launch a protest and review its cosy relationship with the breakaway association (FAI).

At a basic level, many things they could do here, stop cooperation on training schemes for example. Problem with the Celtic Cup is while it will be undoubtedly a Mickey Mouse tournament, the Poor Man's British Championship, I guess it will bring in much needed revenue for the IFA. I wasn't going to waste my money on attending it though before, even less inclined now.

The Setanta Cup has become another joke tournament and the sooner it is put out off its misery the better, pulling IFA clubs out of that should hasten its demise but ultimately won't be that much of a statement.

If the IFA is serious about ending the FAI’s pursual of its underage players, now is the time to act

What are FIFA's views on the matter of poaching? Any chance of legal compensation? If not then as soon as a player is selected for the IFA at any level (and they agree to play) a contract should be signed. If the FAI are going to continue to be twats then start hitting the defectors with compensation cases.

rutherford said...

The current scenario we find ourselves in is untenable. It will ultimately end in either the destruction of the one mainstream sport in NI that is naturally cross-community from grassroots or FIFA will be required to look at the situation once more.

With the loss of 5 players from a single team, this is the critical matter affecting the development of our team.