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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 December 2007, 19:58 GMT
FAI claims victory in player row
Darron Gibson
NI-born Darron Gibson elected to play for the Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland Football governing body (FAI) says a Fifa ruling on Saturday means it can continue to pick Northern Ireland-born players.

Earlier, the Northern Ireland governing body, the IFA, had claimed victory in the row between the Irish associations.

An FAI statement said that it "welcomed" Fifa's decision.

"Senior Fifa sources have confirmed to us that the status quo remains and the FAI may continue to select players born in Northern Ireland," added the FAI.

An FAI spokesman added: "In October 2006, Fifa's Legal Department ruled that players born in Northern Ireland are entitled to play for the Republic of Ireland if they choose."

Saturday's brief, one sentence statement from Fifa on the controversy said that current rules were being left "unchanged".

The Irish FA said that it was interpreting that as Fifa abandoning a proposal to allow Northern Ireland-born players to play the Republic of Ireland.

"I was always quietly confident. Fifa is just upholding its own rules," said IFA president Raymond Kennedy, prior to the FAI statement.

Last month, the IFA was angered by Fifa's legal department's proposal that players born in Northern Ireland should be allowed to play for the Republic.

The FAI has consistently argued that Fifa rules does give them the right to field Northern Ireland-born players.

And with Fifa regulations unchanged after Saturday's decision, the Republic of Ireland association's stance is unaltered.

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.

Northern Ireland's political parties have got involved in the controversy and the Republic of Ireland's Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern also said that Northern Ireland-born players should be allowed to play for the Republic, if they wished.

Unionist politicians claimed that Fifa rules allowing Northern Ireland-born players to play for the Republic could "sectarianise" the Northern Ireland team.



SEE ALSO
Fifa to discuss Irish player row
11 Dec 07 |  Internationals
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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