There seems to be conflicting news coming out regarding the issue of the FAI drafting players from throughout the island of Ireland. The Irish Independent reports that FIFA has now decided “the FAI, who may no longer quote the Good Friday Agreement as an excuse for drafting up players born on the island of Ireland” while the Belfast Telegraph says that from now on the FAI “can only call on players born in the Republic, or whose parents, or grandparents, are born in the Republic or where the player concerned has lived for two years in the country”.
But the Irish Times and FIFA are saying something completely different. Update: The IFA have now confirmed FIFA have yet to decide on the matter.
The paper reports that the FAI:
described as “good and constructive” its meeting with Fifa yesterday in relation to the eligibility of players born in the North to play for the Republic. A four-strong delegation from Merrion Square came away from Zurich with a commitment that there will be no retrospective changes to the current position. The status of Darron Gibson has, therefore, been resolved.
Beyond that, it remains to be seen what attitude Fifa’s legal people will take to the IFA’s claim that the terms of the political settlement in Northern Ireland altered the situation. “We need some time to review all of the information that has been presented at these meetings,” said a spokesman for Fifa yesterday.
Slugger gave FIFA a quick call and was informed that as this issue has refused to go away for quite a while now, FIFA decided last August to call in both organisations for a final round of talks. The IFA set out their stall in Zurich last week while the FAI put forward their view on Monday.
The spokesman repeated what the Irish Times reported, namely that it first needs to review the information it received at these two meetings, which could take days or even weeks, before making a decision.
“From our side, nothing has been decided,” said FIFA.
Hopefully, we all won’t have to wait too long to have a definitive and final ruling on this issue.
UPDATE: The IFA have come out and said that media reports saying FIFA has ruled on the matter are “premature”.
“FIFA has told us that they will make a judgement before the end of October and we have not yet heard anything from them,” said IFA chief Howard Wells.
So it seems the BBC, the Belfast Telegraph and the Irish Independent are the ones with questions to answer over their reporting of this matter.
Also, to the best of my knowledge the latest BBC report which contains the IFA statement is also inaccurate in that it says FIFA has yet to rule on the “Gibson case”. Gibson has already been cleared to play for the Republic of Ireland as, whatever it decides, FIFA won’t act retrospectively.