Getting out of Jail

San Marino 1 Rep Ireland 2 – and that’s only ’cause of a 94th minute winner.

  • Nothere

    Kensei,

    I think of other people from Northern Ireland as being Northern Irish (even if they think of themselves as being Irish above N.Irish).

    To me, from NI, I look upon ROI in the same way as Scottish would look upon the English. They’re just another nation.

    From my perspective, looking at a NIrish person supporting ROI; it’s like a Scottish person supporting England because they put there Britishness above there Scottishness; backing it up by arguing that England claim/claimed dominion over Scotland.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “At this stage I think that the present model of local soccer, at league and international level, is beyond reform, as far as most nationalists I know are concerned”
    “Not much scope for change there then, if it’s “beyond reform”.

    There is plenty of scope, of course there is. You mightn’t like the kind of reform I’m suggesting, but that’s an entirely different issue. There IS there is plenty of scope. All Ireland are the words I’m thinking of. As a citizen of NI, I’m nominally represented by the team at Windsor, yet I don’t feel that that team represents me at all. I’m entitled to put that view forward. Plenty of scope to discuss how we put together a team that DOES represent me. Any ideas? Other than telling me I’m wrong?

    My idea is an all-Ireland team. What do you say? Other than Nevaaar, Nevaaaar, Nevaaar, Nevaaaar!

    “Interesting that the community background breakdown of players in the local game would not be out of kilter with the breakdown of the community at large.”

    But what of supporters? As you say, the playing stats indicate that the nationalist population are as soccer-mad as any. Why are they absent from the terraces?

    “The issues surrounding sectarianism in the local game are not confined to one community.”

    No-one is suggesting that they are.

    “Research would show that “most” nationalists have an allegiance to the Irish Republic team, and that a sizeable proportion of nationalists would not support a “Northern Ireland” representative team under any circumstances.”

    True. Don’t you think this has any significance? Many Catholic schools in the north play soccer, none that I know of play rugby. Yet most Catholics support the Ireland rugby team, yet few support the NI soccer team. (Not to day they’re against them, but the team that play at Windsor aren’t their team.) Don’t you think this is significant? Don’t you think this is an issue that ought to be addressed by any team that purports to represent the people of these six counties?

    (No offence or political statement intended by phrase “six counties”.)

    Those nationalists who are honest enough to say that they could/would not support a “Northern Ireland” team under any circumstances have my respect.”

    My position is that while I support the local lads, they could never be my team. Unless my own brother was playing for NI, I couldn’t support them against ROI. (I’d always support them against anyone else, though I know many who wouldn’t.) But what I’d like is to be able to support a team that represents the county I’m from without having to add an asterisk or a caveat. An All Ireland team would allow everyone on this island to do just that. Why not allow us to do so?

    “In no way would I ever seek to persuade them otherwise, or to pretend that they are a “target market”.”

    But I am a citizen of NI, born and raised here. Why must I be “represented” by a team that does not actually represent me? Why can’t you support an organization that represents me in soccer the way I am in rugby, hockey, boxing and so many other sports?

    “What, if any, changes would enable you to comfortably cheer on a “Northern Ireland” representative team?”

    An All-Ireland representative team. I can have goodwill towards any team comprised of Irishmen, but nothing less than a team that represents Ireland will win my heart. I won’t pretend that there’s anything less than that that I’d give my heart to.

  • USA

    I bet a majority of fathers, young sons, daughters etc would be very happy going to watch a re-constitued Irish soccer scene, at both domestic and international level, in a safe neutral environment.
    Take the game back from the morons who would attack a bus because it has leprechauns on it. Build someting better, take ownership, take back the beautiful game.
    On another note I watched Man Utd against Spurs last weekend and that had to be some of the worst refereeing I have seen in years. Just bad, bad bad. How did Scholes not get a card, how did Larsson not get a penalty, how come that cheater Ronaldo DID get a penalty. Why was Larsson booked, how come Spurs didn’t get a perfectly valid penalty.
    I don’t support either team, they were just a succession of terrible calls.

  • BP1078

    “My idea is an all-Ireland team. What do you say? Other than Nevaaar, Nevaaaar, Nevaaar, Nevaaaar!”

    Not really addressed to me, but never stops me from butting in!!

    Well, how about an all-UK team, makes more sense from aplaying and organisational point of view?
    So why not Team UK? The UK is not your country?

    The comparison has been made with the situation in rugby, they can manage it there, why not in soccer?

    Well, despite the hype to the contrary, there are quite a few of us in NI who feel no affinity whatsoever towards the Irish Rugby team. No hatred, just an apathy, they do not represent us- it’s not our *country*, not our team.

    George hit it on the head earlier, the IRFU hasn’t really done anything wrong in the Ravenhill anthem fiasco-the team for decades has played in Dublin (not our capital), in the Republic of Ireland (not our country), stood to an anthem which is not ours and under a flag which is not ours.

    Yes, I know plenty of Unionists have played for and supported such a team. But they have made the decision to play and support a team knowing those previous conditions, for 80 minutes every game, they have sacrificed their own nationality and political beliefs to play and support a team which is not really theirs.

    I also know that the refusal of the IRFU to recognise that there is another tradition within the island, by playing their anthem when finally they deign to bring a match to Belfast, has shocked and upset many (speaking to family and friends and looking at the rugby message boards).

    Well, good. Nothing wrong with getting everything into the open; the IRFU has quite clearly told us that *Ireland* is first and foremost a ROI team, if Nordies want to play great, but they do under their conditions.

    It is now time for those in NI who still support this team to reconsider their allegiance and I believe plenty are doing so.

    An all Ireland soccer team?

    It wouldn’t be apathy I would feel towards it, like I do towards the rugby team. An all-Ireland team would mean that I no longer have a country to support, it would have been taken away from me solely for the reasons of political expediency. I would therefore sincerely hope that such an all-Ireland team would be a complete failure playing-wise. I would laugh everytime they got beaten by the likes of er…Cyprus and san Marino.

    But taking into comsideration, the combined intellectual and organisational strength of the IFA and FAI personnel, along with the hostility of the vast majority of NI fans, I don’t think such a team is something we’re going to see anytime soon.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “Plenty of scope to discuss how we put together a team that DOES represent me. Any ideas? Other than telling me I’m wrong?

    My idea is an all-Ireland team. What do you say?”

    A new stadium, a new sporting anthem and adopting the St Patrick’s Cross as the “official”
    flag for Northern Ireland games perhaps?

    Or, is it you who is saying “never, never, never” to an autonomous Northern Ireland team?

    “But what of supporters? As you say, the playing stats indicate that the nationalist population are as soccer-mad as any. Why are they absent from the terraces?”

    Several local clubs have a predominately nationalist support.

    Many nationalists are absent from Northern Ireland games because:

    a/ Their allegiance is to the Irish Republic team

    b/ Their allegiance will never be to a team representing “Northern Ireland”.

    Nobody can make them support Northern Ireland.

    “Unless my own brother was playing for NI, I couldn’t support them against ROI”

    Indeed.

    “An All Ireland team would allow everyone on this island to do just that. Why not allow us to do so?”

    I was born in Northern Ireland, and I support the Northern Ireland team, for all it’s flaws.

    That you don’t is a matter of your personal choice.

    It is not compulsary that you support Northern Ireland.

    I would not support an All Ireland team. If there was no Northern Ireland team, my support would be confined to club football.

    “But I am a citizen of NI, born and raised here. Why must I be “represented” by a team that does not actually represent me?”

    I am a County Antrim man, born and raised. Why must I be represented by a county team that does not actually represent me in any shape or form?

    That Northern Ireland exists, and is represented by a football team, is fine by me.

    “Why can’t you support an organization that represents me in soccer the way I am in rugby, hockey, boxing and so many other sports?”

    The FAI might be a better organisation to ask – there was a team that represented the island, until our friends in Merrion Square split.

    Rugby never split – ie, there was never a “Northern Ireland” team. If there was, that’s were my primary allegiance would be.

    I do not feel totally represented by the Ireland rugby team.

    Boxers represent “Northern Ireland” at the Commonwealth games – do you support them?

    In hockey, I support the British team at the Olympics, which includes players from Northern Ireland.

    “nothing less than a team that represents Ireland will win my heart. I won’t pretend that there’s anything less than that that I’d give my heart to”

    Nothing less than a team that represents Northern Ireland (at football) will win my heart. I won’t pretend that there’s anything less than that that I’ll give my heart to.

    Perhaps if/when FIFA decree that anyone born in Northern Ireland is free to declare for either the Irish Republic or Northern Irish sides, you will feel a little happier.

    You get to see an Irish team which represents players from your part of the world too, and I continue to watch and support an autonomous Northern Ireland team.

    Fair compromise.

  • kensei

    “I think of other people from Northern Ireland as being Northern Irish (even if they think of themselves as being Irish above N.Irish).”

    You don’t get to define me.

    “To me, from NI, I look upon ROI in the same way as Scottish would look upon the English. They’re just another nation.”

    To me, I am from Ireland. To me, there is no distinction other than the bloody inconvenience of being ruled by England.

    “From my perspective, looking at a NIrish person supporting ROI; it’s like a Scottish person supporting England because they put there Britishness above there Scottishness; backing it up by arguing that England claim/claimed dominion over Scotland.”

    Again, your perspective does matter on what Nationality I am. You see, I am not a Unionist, so the Republic isn’t just another nation. You haven’t really learned about this respecting people’s right to chose whatever nationality they like thing, have you?

  • Realist

    “As do comments on OWC tonight stating that the FAI are’fucking cunts who deserve to be shot’”

    Once again, Northern Ireland detractors found out telling wee porkies – in this case “Colour Blind”.

    It seems that yesterday some irrate ROI fans were tampering with Wikipedia, regarding the entry for the FAI.

    This tampering was highlighted on OWC, and the ROI fans’ board, footie.ie

    This is how Wikipedia looked at one point yesterday.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search

    Founded 1921
    FIFA affiliation 1923
    UEFA affiliation 1958
    President
    David Blood
    Coach
    Jake Stevens (Men’s)
    Noel King (Women’s)
    The Football Association of Ireland (FAI)Are a bunch of f**king useless c**ts that should be taken out and shot. Everything that they touch turns to ash. wheither it’s the Eircom League, all the money that they blew after the 1990 & 1994 world Cups, the Building of Eircom Park, The Roy keane incident, The Sacking Of Brian Kerr after he did the best that he could right down to the Appiontment of a man without no managerial experience and who talks through his arse…Mr Steve Staunton! the organising body for the sport of association football (soccer) in the Republic of IrelandThey should appoint Dave Barry ’cause he is from Cork and knows all about winning. Doucha Davey Barry boy!. It should not be confused with the Irish Football Association (IFA), which is the organising body for the sport in Northern Ireland which is full of dirty f**kin huns and snakes just like Rangers.

    Remember colour blind, when you start to point the finger, there’ll be a least one pointing right back at you. 🙂

  • redwood

    There will not be an all ireland soccer team until (if ever) there is all-Ireland political harmonisation.

    Northern Ireland supporters clearly have strong political views and feelings on this and would not accept it under any circumstances.

    The vast majority of the Nationalist population support or have a strong affinity to the Irish team in Dublin. I have spoken to a number of supporters from Belfast and Derry over the last while who attend games, home and away and they seem quite content with the present situation.

    The crux of their arguement is that there is basically already an all ireland team in place, that is supported by the majority on the island and has players from North & South playing together for the same team.

    They seem happy enough for Northern Ireland to continue playing (as is the present position) and have no problems with the Unionist support displaying their emblems ,anthems, songs etc..

    To be honest,disinterest was the main feeling.

    But perhaps they were football fans rather than political animals.

  • gram

    I think it’s obvious that both Northern Nationalists and Unionists feel alienated from supporting football in N.Ireland. More people travel on a saturday to watch the EPL and the SPL than to Irish league games. Windsor if it’s lucky gets a crowd of 14K, Ravenhill gets about that for most games.

    Why? 3rd world stadiums. Dire standard of football. Sectarianism. (Rugby seems to have sorted out the last 2 issues.)

    I’m astonished that the apologists for the Irish league and the IFA are happy with this state of affairs and don’t think a racical overhaul of the league and national team is required.

    Two wins over Spain and England seem to have given supporters the misguided impression that everything is Ok.

  • Briso

    >indeed the game in Ireland is in terrible state.
    >This is reflected by the awful performances of
    >local teams in Europe

    Rubbish man. The Swedes have been regularly hammered by Irish teams over the last three or four years. We in the LOI are doing very nicely in Europe thanks very much. The IL is doing terribly because it’s just not a priority to them. I disagree with this attitude, but that’s definitely the way it is…

  • GavBelfast

    Redwood,

    I know I shouldn’t feed you but, sorry, utter guff and you know it. People from Belfast and Derry supporting a partitionist RoI team for footballing reasons? Aye ….

    Now how many aliases is it now?

  • BP1078

    gram, redwood, colourblind, john, bus driver,

    Can I suggest you combine your resources together and send off a strongly worded letter illustrating your views to the Belfast Telegraph?

    I know for a fact that the editor of that august organ takes your views very seriously.

    In the meantime, rather than consistently highlighting what you believe to be the problem, how about a few solutions, are you capable of doing that?

    It would make the conversation on here that much more worthwhile.

  • gram

    BP1078. You wanted solutions. Ok here goes none of them too original.

    An all ireland premier league of 10-12 teams. A single national team alternating home games between the new stadium in Dublin and the new stadium in the North. Removal of the anthem issue by coming up with a new one, however bad it may be.

    Pooling resources to develop a centre of excellence for the development of our best young players.

  • BP1078

    gram

    That’s more like it.

    The all-Ireland league, yes, there can be a strong argument made for that.

    But do you reckon a single Irish team would completely solve the problem of “sporting” sectarianism in NI if it only enjoyed the support of one community in NI?

    How would you sell that team to present-day NI fans?
    In your opinion, does this idea need to be sold to NI fans, or should it go ahead regardless of what they think?

  • George

    Gav and BP1078,

    I get the feeling that there is a degree of truth in what Redwood says about many in Northern Ireland now simply ignoring anyting to do with representing Northern Ireland, including the football team. (I don’t necessarily agree with why he thinks they are doing it but I do agree they are doing it.)

    There seems to be a bit of a sea change going on in Ireland at the moment, a sort of an unforseen side effect of the Good Friday Agreement, in my view.

    Now you have Northern Irish nationalists (for lack of a better term) simply deciding to take up Irish citizenship (up nearly a 1000% since 1998) and considering themselves fully paid up members of the Republic.

    The Kenseis of this world are now becoming the norm in his “community”.

    The next logical step after declaring your nationality, as is your right under the GFA, is to support your nation’s football team and it seems in the next decade more and more will be declaring for the Republic.

    This didn’t happen 20 years ago. If you were born in Northern Ireland you declared for Northern Ireland.

    I see this situation getting more and more pronounced in the years to come.

    A critical mass will arrive in the next decade and after that pretty well all Northern nationalists will support and, where applicable, declare for the Republic.

    For example, if a couple of players born in Northern Ireland break into the national team of the Republic.

    Whan can Northern Ireland fans and the IFA do about it?

    Nothing. It’s too late.

  • gram

    BP1078:

    The idea needs to be sold. The first step of this should be the establishment of the all Ireland league. Let that run for a few seasons then move to merging both teams.

    Lets face it sticking with the set up we’ve got is completely stupid and doesn’t make best use of the limited resources on both sides of the border.

  • Realist

    Some revealing eyewitness accounts from ROI fans at the game in San Marino on footie.ie

    One poster says:

    “I was ashamed to be Irish in that stadium last night.
    1 Awful, awful performance by a team that does NOT care
    2 gob shiiite pitch invader
    3 minute silence to a dead policeman interrupted by mindless leprechaun-suited morons
    4 result”

    Another poster says:

    “Can I add to that the f**cking idgits from whatever team up north singing IRA songs and f**k the queen songs. I’m sorry how the f**k can these songs motivate the team?”

    I have no desire whatsoever to be “united” with such “supporters”.

    The notion that a so called “united” team would be the cure to all sectarian evils is, frankly, ridiculous.

    Some scumbags follow Northern Ireland and some scumbags follow the Irish Republic.

    Let the FAI and IFA sort out their respective problems.

  • Realist

    “A critical mass will arrive in the next decade and after that pretty well all Northern nationalists will support and, where applicable, declare for the Republic.

    For example, if a couple of players born in Northern Ireland break into the national team of the Republic”

    …and then we can all live happily ever after, with everyone feeling appropriately represented!

  • tony

    Any response from the IFA regarding the sectarian attack on buses by a mab of n.i supporters after the game on Tuesday ?

  • tony

    ‘mob’

  • BP1078

    George

    You raise an important question, but just as side point, the possession of an Irish passport in NI does not automatically mean you are a nationalist, people will obtain one for political reasons; but also for the convenience of travel and work(e.g.contracting in Middle east is much safer with an Irish passport) and simply because they can now have 2 passports.

    Regarding your main point:

    A critical mass will arrive in the next decade and after that pretty well all Northern nationalists will support and, where applicable, declare for the Republic.

    You are making prsumptions here based on political rather than footballing considerations. If what you say becomes true, then we will have a Unionist team playing in Belfast and a ROI & N.Nationalist one playing in Dublin. I think this would be a shame but I doubt it will happen:

    You assume every footballer in NI has a strong view on the constitutional future of the province and falls into either Unionist or nationalist camp (although I think those two terms are euphemisms for another classification). Whether a footballer chooses to play for NI or the ROI will depend on not just his “community background”(another euphemism), but will be dependent on other factors e.g.

    1. The relative strengths of both senior teams. Those coming through now for the ROI will have only seen times when it was a much stronger team than NI.

    2. How younger players are treated by the underage set-ups of both countries. Interesting to note that the rumour Conner declared for the ROI was not for political reasosn but because he felt he was treated unfairly by the NI set-up.

    3. The further development of a unique N.Irih identity. Dependent on how the Peace Process continues obviously.

    4. A team only has 11 players. Obviously if Northern players start declaring for the Republic they will face greater competition for places than they will in NI. Will the average non-politically motivated player be content to risk being an also-ran with the rOI when there would be a greater chance of a place in the NI team?

    5. You don’t have to feel particularly loyal to a state to play for it’s national team. Basques and Catalonians play for Spain, ethnic Hungarians for Romania and Slovakia. In many cases, loyalty to lads that you’ve played for throught the various age levels may overrride any political consideration.

    So, yes I think we may get a drift of players to the ROI but not quite the flood you and others are predicting.

    Whan can Northern Ireland fans and the IFA do about it?

    If a player born in NI wants to declare for the ROI there is nothing we can do about it (the bigger irritation with Darron Gibson is that this sudden new-foound *Irishness* comes after several years playing for NI junior teams, but that is another question for another day).

    What I want to see (only my opinion not speaking for the entire GAWA here obv.!) is a stronger N.Irish identity in connection with the team and supporters and less of a British one. I’m proud to be British, but my team is not Great Britain FC but Northern Ireland and there are people who play for it (and hopefully support it) who will not consider themselves British…no problem wit that whatsoever. I’d like to see the battle against sectarianism continuing. But both things I want to see happening because I believe it is the best way forward for Northern Ireland. If by doing so, more players and supporters feel an attcahment or affinity for the team, then so much the better.

    “Nothing. It’s too late.”

    Until our team disappears, it will never be too late to change things for the better!!

  • BP1078

    Piles of spelling mistakes there, apologies!

  • Realist

    “Any response from the IFA regarding the sectarian attack on buses by a mab of n.i supporters after the game on Tuesday ?”

    Yes.

    “We had no reports of anything happening inside Windsor Park. anything outside Windsor Park is a matter for the PSNI”

    The PSNI are still awaiting the person who made the complaint to contact them, in order to fully investigate this alleged “incident”.

    As oppossed to the deafening silence from the FAI when a mob of drunken ROI “supporters” in Strabane attacked buses containing Protestant schoolchildren during the 2002 World Cup.

    Just out of interest, why do you have to be an “Irish Citizen” to work for that bus company?

  • Realist

    “If a player born in NI wants to declare for the ROI there is nothing we can do about it (the bigger irritation with Darron Gibson is that this sudden new-foound *Irishness* comes after several years playing for NI junior teams, but that is another question for another day)”

    BP1078,

    Just a point of clarification.

    Gibson only represented Northern Ireland at schoolboy level.

    He was asked by the IFA to play for Northern Ireland Under 17’s and refused, citing his desire to play for the Irish Republic (whom he supported since he was knee high to a grasshopper).

    His uncle claims that Gibson has never been asked by the IFA to play for Northern Ireland – a lie.

    He has subsequently represented the Irish Republic at various underage levels.

    The IFA are barking up the wrong tree with Gibson.

  • tony

    Hopefully then, the IFA will release a statement of condemnation this year if n.i supporters once again fly IFA flags alongside those of the uvf & uff, as was the case in many unionist areas last July.

    I doubt if the IFA would want their emblem associated with loyalist terrorists, even if many n.i supporters don’t have a problem with it.

  • kensei

    “1. The relative strengths of both senior teams. Those coming through now for the ROI will have only seen times when it was a much stronger team than NI.”

    It doesn’t matter. The difference is mute in comparison to the major international teams. And present, difficulties aside, the Republic is likely to be the stronger team in the long run simply because the population and player pool is bigger. NI is having a great run at the moment, but qualification for finals would still be a surprise.

    “2. How younger players are treated by the underage set-ups of both countries. Interesting to note that the rumour Conner declared for the ROI was not for political reasons but because he felt he was treated unfairly by the NI set-up.”

    There will always be some people switching because of some slight or another but I don’t think it’ll be a major factor.

    “3. The further development of a unique N.Irih identity. Dependent on how the Peace Process continues obviously.”

    Any time people are asked about a new flag or anthem, the answer is “we have a flag, we have an anthem”. Nationalists simply aren’t going to stop being Nationalists. This is Unionist fantasy.

    “4. A team only has 11 players. Obviously if Northern players start declaring for the Republic they will face greater competition for places than they will in NI. Will the average non-politically motivated player be content to risk being an also-ran with the rOI when there would be a greater chance of a place in the NI team?

    5. You don’t have to feel particularly loyal to a state to play for it’s national team. Basques and Catalonians play for Spain, ethnic Hungarians for Romania and Slovakia. In many cases, loyalty to lads that you’ve played for throught the various age levels may overrride any political consideration.”

    These are the key points. Footballers will ultimately do what is best for their career. A lot of it might simply be about getting in first, because players might take guaranteed football for a second preference rather than possibly missing out totally for their first. The problem is that in that scenario, the best players will declare for the Republic because they’ll be confident of making it.

    It is academic anyway, because when faced with the choice between a team with players that covers the whole island with all the guff that speaks to Nationalism and a team that represents only bit of it and doesn’t have any of that, there is only going to be one winner in terms of support.

  • BP1078

    Gibson only represented Northern Ireland at schoolboy level\

    OK thanks Realist, I was mixing him up with the other 2 lads, Conner and Kane.

    tony
    That kind of nonsensical comment reflects worse on you than the IFA.

    If you didn’t exist, we would have to make you up (maybe we have?!!)

  • George

    BP1078,
    I’m sure they aren’t all nationalists who take Irish passports but it does seem to be part of a trend of pinning your national colours to the mast, so to speak. Many that do seek out the passport then consider the Republic as their country.

    “You are making presumptions here based on political rather than footballing considerations. If what you say becomes true, then we will have a Unionist team playing in Belfast and a ROI & N.Nationalist one playing in Dublin. I think this would be a shame but I doubt it will happen:”

    You say it may not happen but I am seeing indications that this is exactly what is happening. I could be wrong of course.

    “1. The relative strengths of both senior teams.”

    I don’t this has anything to do with what is happening at the moment.

    “2. How younger players are treated by the underage set-ups of both countries.”

    The fact that Conner would decide to declare for the ROI merely because of the shoddy set-up in NI is what is important here. That wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago, even if they treated him tens times worse. Now what was previously a major leap is a mere step.

    “3. The further development of a unique N.Irih identity. Dependent on how the Peace Process continues obviously.”

    That isn’t happening. I’m sure many thought it would but it isn’t.
    Why develop a N.Irish identity when you are just as free to develop an all-Ireland one? There is no incentive for your average “nationalist” to develop never mind support a unique NI identity. What’s in it for them that they wouldn’t get by signing up with the rest of the island?

    “4. Will the average non-politically motivated player be content to risk being an also-ran with the rOI when there would be a greater chance of a place in the NI team?”

    Sure this could happen but this means we get Wayne Rooney and you might get Kevin Nolan if you know what I mean.

    “5. You don’t have to feel particularly loyal to a state to play for it’s national team. Basques and Catalonians play for Spain, ethnic Hungarians for Romania and Slovakia.”

    If a Catalan had a choice of Catalonia or Spain, he would pick Catalonia. Northern Irish “nationalists” have that choice, Hungarians in Slovakia etc. don’t.

    “So, yes I think we may get a drift of players to the ROI but not quite the flood you and others are predicting.”

    I think the flood is going to happen. All it takes, for example, is for let’s say Darron Gibson to deliver, and the trickle will become a stream. From that stream come one or two more. It’s a matter of when rather than if. We’ll see but that is my view on what’s happening. I didn’t see this coming 10 years ago.

    “What I want to see (only my opinion not speaking for the entire GAWA here obv.!) is a stronger N.Irish identity in connection with the team and supporters and less of a British one.”

    Brings me back to what’s in it for an Irish citizen living in Northern Ireland when they can simply sign up to an Irish team that plays their anthem, flies their flag, permits (some would say encourages) their inbuilt prejudices etc?

    “Until our team disappears, it will never be too late to change things for the better!!”

    I don’t see that happening whatever happens but I just see a resolve amongst an awful lot of “northern nationalists” to erase it from their consciousness in the coming years no matter how hard the IFA or the dedicated fans try.

  • Realist

    Tony,

    “Hopefully then, the IFA will release a statement of condemnation this year if n.i supporters once again fly IFA flags alongside those of the uvf & uff, as was the case in many unionist areas last July”

    Tell you what – why don’t you email them and ask them to?

    Out of curiousity, would you reckon there are any Irish Republic supporters who are also supportive of PIRA/CIRA/RIRA/INLA?

    Or, if someone goes to a market stall to buy an ROI flag, do the FAI have officials who stop them and say “Excuse me Sir, do you support any republican paramilitary organisations?”

  • Realist

    George/Kensei,

    Having reflected carefully on the matter, I have no problems with any nationalist kid, born in Northern Ireland, pinning his international career to the Irish Republic mast.

    Let them be asked the question early “who do you want to play for?”, and once they decide, that’s that.

    I would not want anyone, regardless of their background, to be forced to play for Northern Ireland against their wishes, and would not seek to deny anyone the chance to play international football on account of their political beliefs.

    I am quite sure that many young nationalists will continue to declare for Northern Ireland, and accept that we may well lose some of our better nationalist talent to the Irish Republic teams.

    That’s a shame, but something we have to accept and move on from.

    Any nationalist who wears the Northern Ireland shirt will always have my full support.

    Witness the double standing ovation afforded to Sammy Clingan when he was substituted on Tuesday night, and the reception given to young Sean Webb when he made his debut during the same game.

    Once all that is ironed out, it will bring an end to the “I’m not represented” talk once and for all.

    We’ll have a Northern Ireland team for those who support Northern Ireland, and a Irish Republic team (including some Northern lads) for those that prefer that option.

    Everybody happy. Job’s a goodun.

  • BP1078

    1. The relative strengths of both senior teams.”

    I don’t this has anything to do with what is happening at the moment.

    Players who are not 100% politically committed will be influenced by the relative strengths of both teams. I think it is a factor now, would such players be willing to declare for the ROI after a few more Cyprus’s and san Marinos?

    “2. How younger players are treated by the underage set-ups of both countries.”

    The fact that Conner would decide to declare for the ROI merely because of the shoddy set-up in NI is what is important here. That wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago, even if they treated him tens times worse. Now what was previously a major leap is a mere step.

    Swings and roundabouts, if he had been treated properly, he wouldn’t have gone over to the ROI; a more professional youth system would have kept him.

    “3. The further development of a unique N.Irih identity. Dependent on how the Peace Process continues obviously.”

    That isn’t happening. I’m sure many thought it would but it isn’t.

    Don’t know, 10 years further years of peace?? At that stage will a young player from Belfast feel a closer affinity to someone from Cork, Galway or to someone from his own city?

    “4. Will the average non-politically motivated player be content to risk being an also-ran with the rOI when there would be a greater chance of a place in the NI team?”

    Sure this could happen but this means we get Wayne Rooney and you might get Kevin Nolan if you know what I mean.

    But still we would be getting the Kevin Nolans, we won’t be looking at the flood south predicted. And to be perfectly honest, we’re never going to be competing at such a level in the future where the addition of one or two players will make that much of a difference. A NI team full of NI players irrespective of religion is good enough for me…although I’ll obv take any success that comes along!!

    “5. You don’t have to feel particularly loyal to a state to play for it’s national team. Basques and Catalonians play for Spain, ethnic Hungarians for Romania and Slovakia.”

    If a Catalan had a choice of Catalonia or Spain, he would pick Catalonia. Northern Irish “nationalists” have that choice, Hungarians in Slovakia etc. don’t.

    The Basques and Hungarians do have a choice-not to play for the team which doesn’t represent their national identity. That they still choose to turn out for their respective countrys proves there are other factors than national identity involved.

    We’ll see but that is my view on what’s happening. I didn’t see this coming 10 years ago.

    I did actually, although, I’m more optimistic with the situation now, than say a year ago.

    Brings me back to what’s in it for an Irish citizen living in Northern Ireland when they can simply sign up to an Irish team that plays their anthem, flies their flag, permits (some would say encourages) their inbuilt prejudices etc?

    I support NI not Republic of Ireland. If they are more comfortable supporting ROI, it’s their choice, I suspect what anthems or flags we play around with, will not make much difference anyway. I personally want a stronger NI dimension (but we’re talking about the supporters not players now)

    “Until our team disappears, it will never be too late to change things for the better!!”

    I don’t see that happening whatever happens but I just see a resolve amongst an awful lot of “northern nationalists” to erase it from their consciousness in the coming years no matter how hard the IFA or the dedicated fans try.

    I believe that those who want to erase NI from their consciousness have already done so, the situation doesn’t get any worse than it is now. But again we’re talking about fans not players?

  • Realist

    “A NI team full of NI players irrespective of religion is good enough for me”

    Yesterday, today, tomorrow and until we die BP1078.

    Nail, head, hit.

  • tony

    “Let them be asked the question early “who do you want to play for?”, and once they decide, that’s that.”

    I suggest you read FIFA guidelines in this matter

  • Realist

    Tony,

    I have.

    You should be aware of ongoing discussions between the IFA, FAI and FIFA.

  • George

    BP1078,
    “Players who are not 100% politically committed will be influenced by the relative strengths of both teams.”

    I don’t see the NI team developing to such a degree that it has markedly better qualification chances or the ROI (despite San Marino and Cyprus) sinking to oblivion.

    “Swings and roundabouts, if he had been treated properly, he wouldn’t have gone over to the ROI; a more professional youth system would have kept him.”

    Maybe, maybe not. He might have found another reason. The point is these players now see that they have an option. Previously it never occurred to them.

    “Don’t know, 10 years further years of peace?? At that stage will a young player from Belfast feel a closer affinity to someone from Cork, Galway or to someone from his own city?”

    In 10 years, northern nationalists will be feeling more at home with the Republic (the rest of this island) than they do now, in my view. Not less. The border is becoming less relevant not more. The objective for many is to continue this process.

    “But still we would be getting the Kevin Nolans,”

    Our Kevin Nolans wouldn’t be fit to lace Kevin Nolan’s boots. Hell our Wayne Rooneys barely match up to Nolan.

    “A NI team full of NI players irrespective of religion is good enough for me…although I’ll obv take any success that comes along!!”

    You will have that, no matter what.

    “The Basques and Hungarians do have a choice-not to play for the team which doesn’t represent their national identity.”

    That is not choice for a footballer – to not play. Northern “nationalists” have the choice of team.

    “I suspect what anthems or flags we play around with, will not make much difference anyway.”

    None whatsoever. And do you know why? Because if you are fully acceptable to them then you are fully acceptable to me = all-Ireland team or dissolution of FAI.

    “I believe that those who want to erase NI from their consciousness have already done so, the situation doesn’t get any worse than it is now. But again we’re talking about fans not players? ”

    I believe the process is just beginning. We haven’t seen anything yet. Once the trail is more worn it will speed up. I mean players and fans with this.

    Obviously, someone like British secret agent Stan Staunton could scupper it by turning the whole island off football.

    Realist,
    I am glad to hear it.

    What you say could become the long-term reality. It isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility. We shall see.

  • George

    Realist,
    the IFA “discussion” with FIFA is a smokescreen and I hope you know it.

    The situation is perfectly clear and I strongly believe the IFA know this too but feel the need to be seen to fight their corner.

  • Briso

    “Let them be asked the question early “who do you want to play for?”, and once they decide, that’s that.”

    Why? If they change their mind when your manager asks them to play, why in God’s name would you turn them down?

  • USA

    A center of football excellence to develop young talent – another great idea, what are your current governing bodies doing to achieve these things?
    I agree a single league should come before any debate over the merits of a single national team. Government money could be sought as an effort at cross border co-operation, kicking sectarianism out of sport etc.
    But you guys are arguing politics a lot, I am reading very little about the FOOTBALL issues, for example the business end of things. Look at the revenue that could be generated from TV, gate reciepts, sponsorship, advertising. The Scottish FA do it, the GAA do it…
    Start thinking outside the box, we all know the problems. You guys are falling back into the old arguements over what team a kid should play for etc. These issues are distractions, you are ignoring the elephant in the room.
    Are you Irish football fans or not? Survey:
    Single league – yes or no?
    One national team (non sectarian) – yes or no?

  • Realist

    George,

    “the IFA “discussion” with FIFA is a smokescreen and I hope you know it”

    I think there’s a bit more to the discussions than initially meets the eye.

    The IFA will, of course, try to get the best result for the Northern Ireland set up, as is possible.

    When this is all sorted, I am quietly confident that the future autonomy of the IFA will be strengthened.

    That’s a “win” for me and other Northern Ireland fans.

    “The situation is perfectly clear and I strongly believe the IFA know this too but feel the need to be seen to fight their corner”

    The situation is far from clear. I’ve read page after page of discussions on various forums, and the one thing that is clear is that the rules are not clear.

    These discussions will result in absolute clarity being provided in the context of players born in Northern Ireland.

    Clarity is a good thing.

  • Realist

    briso,

    “Why? If they change their mind when your manager asks them to play, why in God’s name would you turn them down?”

    If a player “declares” for the Irish Republic, I would not want anyone at the IFA asking them to play for Northern Ireland.

    The IFA should respect the decision, move on, and forget about the player in question.

    Once you’ve made your bed, you should lie in it.

    My preference is to see every player who represents Northern Ireland, fully committed to Northern Ireland.

  • George

    Realist,
    “I think there’s a bit more to the discussions than initially meets the eye.”

    There isn’t. That’s the point. This has all been clearly stated to the IFA by FIFA and they keep saying they are having discussions.

    They are talking to themselves. Take Darron Gibson for example. The IFA harped on about blocking his call up for San Marino by petitioning FIFA.

    Did FIFA say a word? No. Strange that FIFA get petitioned but don’t feel the need to say a word.

    Why? Because their legal department have explained it all already.

    “The situation is far from clear. I’ve read page after page of discussions on various forums, and the one thing that is clear is that the rules are not clear.”

    This is the smokescreen I am talking about. The clarity has been given by FIFA. The situation couldn’t be clearer.

    I can give it to you again, word for word from FIFA’s legal department, if you want it.

    The fact that the IFA and people on forums won’t accept the reality doesn’t change the reality realist.

  • Realist

    USA,

    You might find the recent (lengthy) thread on Ahern’s call for an All Ireland team of interest to you.

    Shouldn’t be too far back in the archives.

    Some good, constructive, debate about an All Ireland league set up in it.

  • USA

    Okay, sorry guys, I will try and look up the previous thread, thank’s realist. I was not even aware Mr.Ahearn had proposed such a thing.
    Great minds think alike -or- fools never differ.

  • donny

    Strange that n.i supporters and the football association are harping on about irishmen playing for their country, when their goalkeeper dosn’t even have a northern irish grandparent.

    No linkage, no parentage, no irish blood and has never lived in the country.

    Perhaps he qualified under the ‘ i ate an ulster fry’ rule

    Bizarre !!

  • Realist

    George,

    “This has all been clearly stated to the IFA by FIFA and they keep saying they are having discussions”

    So the discussions are over, are they?

    That’s news to me.

    Anyway, great…now that we have clarity, we can all move on all the better for it.

    Maybe the IFA will issue a statement on the matter someday soon.

    Regarding Gibson, as I said earlier, the IFA were barking up the wrong tree.

  • Realist

    “I will try and look up the previous thread”

    Sorry USA – I wasn’t as helpful as I might of been.

    You’ll find the “Ahern” thread on page nine – it was commenced on Friday 19th January.

    It’ll keep you busy for a wee while 🙂

  • George

    Realist,
    “So the discussions are over, are they?

    That’s news to me.”

    Discussion implies that there is some lack of clarity or something that is to be negotiated. Neither requirements exist here, in my view.

    As for IFA statements, I reckon we just won’t hear anything from them. They came out in a blaze of glory saying they demanded clarification late last year remember.

    Don’t you think it’s a bit odd that months have passed and they have supposedly still to get one?

    Either that or they have got one and refuse to release it to their fans.

    If I am wrong I will glady eat the hugest lump of the humblest of humble pie I have ever had the humility to digest.

  • Realist

    George,

    It is my clear understanding that the talking is not over – not arguing with you, just giving my understanding of the situation.

    What is your understanding of the outcome of the recent meeting (December) between the Chief Executive of the IFA with Dr Urs Linsi, General Secretary of FIFA and Mr Heinz Tännler, Director of the Legal Division, at the FIFA Headquarters in Zurich to discuss matters of player eligibility as they affect Northern Ireland?

    Are you aware of any future meetings between the FAI and IFA to discuss player eligibility in follow up to their recent discussions in Newry on the subject?

    Having had time to reflect on this whole issue of eligibility, I conclude that the worst case scenario for the IFA isn’t really all that bad.

  • red wedgey

    “Are you aware of any future meetings between the FAI and IFA to discuss player eligibility in follow up to their recent discussions in Newry on the subject?”

    According to some reports the issue was hardly mentioned during the pre-arranged meeting.

    I think the FAI statement last week in response to Howard Wells press release about Gibson ‘not qualifying’ to play for the Republic was pretty telling

    “The FAI only selects players who are eligible and wish to play for the Republic of Ireland. This is in line with FIFA’s position as outlined in October last year,” said an FAI spokesman.

    I don’t feel or see any doubts in the FAI response and its because FIFA have already clarified the situation, thus the inclusion of Gibson this week and the future inclusion of the other players.

  • Realist

    “I don’t feel or see any doubts in the FAI response and its because FIFA have already clarified the situation, thus the inclusion of Gibson this week and the future inclusion of the other players”

    red wedgey,

    Thanks for that.

    Now we all know where we stand and can move on accordingly.

    Good news all round.

  • George

    Realist,

    I’m sure the talking isn’t over but the discussion is would be my view. I think Red Wedgey’s information is a confirmation of my understanding, namely that the issue is sorted and has been sorted since October.

    The IFA must have been given the legal clarification last October and why they refuse to admit it is beyond me.

    Maybe the IFA have an ace up their sleeves they have yet to play but I can’t see it.

    More likely, I think the IFA already has moved on and what they are doing is basically a bit of sabre rattling to let the FAI know that they will stand their ground.

    Just because they have lost that particular battle doesn’t mean they won’t fight for every inch of ground.

    I would do the same.

  • Realist

    George,

    I think we have a meeting of minds on this one, although you will be aware of the meeting in December.

    My understanding is that the IFA will get confirmation of a resolution that, whilst not ideal, will be satisfactory to their future interests.

    Everyone’s a winner, as they say.

    That’s good news.

    I’m comfortable with an outcome that allows a kid the choice of who he wishes to play for, without them being forced into a situation of it’s Northern Ireland or nobody.

    I’m delighted with any outcome that allows the IFA to make best use of their resources to develop players who wish to make their international career with Northern Ireland.

    Most importantly, I’m content that the future autonomy of the IFA and Northern Ireland representative teams will be copper fastened in consequence of this issue.

  • George

    Realist,
    I can’t imagine the resolution being any different than the following:

    General rule:
    Anyone from Northern Ireland with an Irish passport can declare for the Republic.

    Once a player has represented Northern Ireland in an international official match at any age category, he is no longer eligible to play for the Republic.

    Exception:
    An Irish passport holder can apply to change association but this possibility is limited to players who have not played at “A” international level.

    They can change only once, up to the age of 21 and must be approved by the FIFA Players’ Status Committee.

    If you can add to this I am all ears.

  • Realist

    George,

    We’ll just have to wait and see if there any slight amendments to that.

    Should it transpire to be the definative position, it represents an opportunity for the IFA to progress into the future with confidence and a clear focus.

    Whatever the outcome, I’m glad that this matter is to be resolved definatively.

    What matters to me most is that the IFA can move forward with a renewed, clear, focus and objectives with regard to the development of autonomous Northern Ireland representative sides.

    That will be the case, whatever the outcome.

    That some young nationalist players will feel happy that they are not trapped into a Northern Ireland or nobody situation, is an additional benefit.

  • tony

    Tony,

    “Hopefully then, the IFA will release a statement of condemnation this year, if n.i supporters once again fly IFA flags alongside those of the uvf & uff, as was the case in many unionist areas last July”

    “Tell you what – why don’t you email them and ask them to?”

    Realist

    Tell you what – if you were serious about trying to change the perception of n.i fans being sectarian/supporting loyalist paramilitaries etc.., YOU would be emailing the IFA about their logos/emblems being illegally reproduced by a ‘shop’ that sells and produces a huge ammount of merchandise glorifying loyalist terrorism.

    http://www.unionjackshop.com/product_info.php?id=276

    http://www.unionjackshop.com/product_info.php?id=282

    Maybe you could tell the IFA that paramilitary murderers are profiting from your team.

    According to Sydenham on the n.i fans site, they are continuing to ‘commission’ flags using IFA signage.

    http://ourweecountry.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=16905

    Or perhaps you want to keep it quiet because they are giving a good price on your next ‘ give sectarianism the boot’ banner !!!!

  • Realist

    Tony,

    You have been busy, haven’t you 🙂

    As I understand it, the IFA have no copyright on the usage of the IFA crest.

    I can go to a market stall today and buy any amount of “unofficial” gear with the IFA crest on it.

    That is an issue the IFA, specifically the Marketing Director, needs to address as a matter of some priority.

    Regarding your perceptions about Northern Ireland fans, I have absolutely no doubt that some Northern Ireland supporters would also be supportive of loyalist paramilitary activities.

    I would suggest the vast majority don’t.

    Clearly, that would be replicated amongst the ROI support, in that some ROI fans would be supportive of republican paramilitary organisations.

    I would suggest the vast majority don’t.

    Every time you point the finger….