IFA losing battle to stop Northern Irish footballers heading south…

AND so the row over whether footballers from Northern Ireland can play for the Republic continues with an unexpected bombshell from FIFA boss Sepp Blatter. He is backing the Republic’s stance, meaning that players from NI who are entitled to hold an Irish passport can (so long as they meet certain conditions) play their international football for the Irish Republic. I think that’s right. This convoluted row has been going on for ages, but Blatter’s statement will be a blow to the hapless IFA, which seemed to think the matter had been resolved in its favour. Now, the IFA must fear local talent deciding to leave for, or being poached by, the Republic, which will in turn damage the Northern Ireland team. And it must be galling for the IFA to know that it will probably be training future stars for another footballing nation…