Northern soccer players have the right to choose - Pat Sheehan
Reacting to comments made by Gerry Armstrong Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said that the IFA and Gerry Armstrong need to get their heads around the fact that soccer players in the North can choose to play for either team in Ireland at international level.
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:
“FIFA's Executive Committee decided against altering the current rules of eligibility. Those rules, according to Circular 901, state clearly that the additional criteria for eligibility would come into effect "if a player changes his nationality or if he accepts another nationality simply in order to be able to play for the new national team." Clearly, neither grounds apply for Irish citizens born in the six counties, whose Irish citizenship is an inalienable right from birth.
“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. One team from Ireland has saw the cream of the whole country coming together to challenge for world honours, that is the path soccer should take.
“The debate that I think should be opened up between both organisations, the IFA and FAI and indeed the wider public, is if we can all support one rugby team, why not one soccer team? Think of the stronger teams Ireland could put on to the field and the better chances we would have to capture silverware.” CRÍOCH/END