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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 14:40 GMT
Fifa to discuss Irish player row
Darron Gibson
NI-born Darron Gibson elected to play for the Republic of Ireland
Fifa will discuss the eligibility row involving the Northern Ireland (IFA) and Republic of Ireland (FAI) Football Associations in Toyko on Saturday.

The Irish FA was angered last month by Fifa's legal department's proposal that players born in Northern Ireland should be allowed to play for the Republic.

IFA chief executive Howard Wells said the proposal was "inconsistent with Fifa's own rules".

The FAI welcomed the proposal which has caused an outcry in Northern Ireland.

IFA chief Wells indicated that the IFA would take legal advice on the issue.

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.

It added that any final decision on the matter would have to be approved by Fifa's executive committee which meets in Japan on Saturday.

On-loan Wolves midfielder Darron Gibson recently played for the Republic in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

He was born in Derry in Northern Ireland but elected to switch to the Republic after representing the north at Under-16 level.

It seeks to undermine the good work that is being done by the Irish Football Association in developing a cross-community football team

NI Sports Minister Edwin Poots on Fifa's proposal

On Tuesday, unionist attempts to pass a motion at the Stormont Assembly condemning Fifa's eligibility proposal failed after Sinn Fein and the SDLP didn't back the motion.

Sports Minister and DUP Assembly member Edwin Poots rounded on the nationalist parties after Tuesday's vote.

"It is particularly disappointing that people who are engaged in this particular chamber on the basis of building a better Northern Ireland should seek to undermine a better Northern Ireland in terms of the football that is being played in it," said Mr Poots.

"It seeks to undermine the good work that is being done by the Irish Football Association in developing a cross-community football team and seek to sectarianise the Northern Ireland football team which drives against the shared future agenda which I thought the same people had signed up to.

"Clearly they are not as committed to the shared future as what they have verbally said they are."

Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy also criticised Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, who has backed the current Fifa proposal and has made representations to the world governing body in relation to the controversy.

"What we don't need is a blast from the past delivered by Fifa with the help and assistance of some in the background, including I would have to say the Foreign Minister of the Irish Republic Dermot Ahern, who frankly ought to be ashamed of himself," said Mr Kennedy.

Edwin Poots said the controversial proposal could cause chaos in world soccer and especially Eastern Europe, given that there were a large number of Russians living in Baltic states.

IFA anger at Irish football plan
07 Nov 07 |  Northern Ireland
Wells slams Fifa over proposals
07 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Fifa to hear Gibson submissions
15 Oct 07 |  Internationals
NI boss targets Republic's Gibson
19 Aug 07 |  Internationals
IFA voice concern on defections
18 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland


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