The Irish Football Association is to take legal advice over a suggestion that players from Ireland could opt to play for either NI or the Republic.
Darron Gibson has elected to play for the Republic of Ireland
The proposal was put forward by soccer's world governing body, FIFA, which has outlined its view on a long-running dispute.
FIFA became involved following the Republic's call-up of Darren Gibson who was born in Northern Ireland.
The final decision will be made by FIFA's executive committee.
IFA chief executive Howard Wells told the BBC that the FIFA proposal was "totally inconsistent with the body's own rules which apply to the other 206 countries in FIFA".
"I am extremely surprised about this, to say the least, staggered in fact.
"All we are asking is for FIFA to apply their own rules consistently to all members of their organisation.
"This proposal flies in the face of what was said to us just a few weeks ago at a meeting in Zurich."
FIFA's legal committee wrote to Irish FA officials in the north and their FAI counterparts in the Republic outlining their view.
The IFA had expected FIFA to back its argument that players born in the north should turn out for Northern Ireland.
FIFA said it had asked for feedback from the two associations.
The FAI has welcomed the latest stance from FIFA.
"We are pleased that FIFA has once again upheld the principle that players born in Northern Ireland should be free to choose whether they wish to play for the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland," said an FAI statement.
"The FAI will now meet with its legal advisors to review in detail the proposals contained in the FIFA letter before formulating a response."
On-loan Wolves midfielder Darron Gibson recently played for the Republic in a Euro 2008 qualifier.
He was born in Londonderry in Northern Ireland but elected to switch to the Republic after representing the north at Under-16 level.