Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has stated that the DUP's Nigel Dodds needs to accept that soccer players in the North have a fundamental right to choose to play for either soccer team in Ireland at international level and that those who choose not to play for one or the other should not be disadvantaged.
The FIFA Court of Arbitration for Sport has already ruled that players from the North have the right to represent either of the teams on the island of Ireland.
Pat Sheehan said:
“This debate has been ruled on by FIFA's Executive Committee who very clearly indicated that soccer players in the north can choose to play for either international team on the island.
“Nigel Dodds cannot force people to play for one team or another just as he cannot force people to choose whether they choose to identify themselves as Irish or British.He would be better calling for talks between the two governing soccer bodies on the island in the hope of having one team represent Ireland.
“It’s a pity that soccer does not learn from other sports when one team represents Ireland in the likes of rugby, cricket and other sports. Having one team from Ireland has witnessed the entire county getting behind them with no mention of divisions North, South, East or West.”