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Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Friday, 30 July 2010 15:02 UK

IFA fails in bid to halt player exodus to Republic

Daniel Kearns
Daniel Kearns attended last week's hearing in Switzerland

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled against the Irish FA's bid to prevent more Northern Ireland-born players opting for the Republic.

The IFA took a case to the Lausanne-based body after Daniel Kearns became the latest Northern Ireland-born player to switch to the Republic this year.

Like Manchester United's Darron Gibson, Kearns changed allegiance after playing at youth level for Northern Ireland.

IFA president Raymond Kennedy says he is "disappointed" by the decision.

"We will continue to develop our very successful and wide range of 'Football for All' and community programmes in the areas of grassroots, domestic and international football to ensure that anyone available to play for Northern Ireland will want to do so," he added.

A statement from the IFA said the association would "not be making any official comment on the decision at this time as the full reasons for the decision have not yet been announced".

The IFA also wished Kearns "the best of luck in his future footballing career".

Portsmouth's Marc Wilson and Everton's Shane Duffy have also switched allegiance over the last year.

Duffy's case differed from those of Gibson and Kearns in that the Everton player does have a parent or grandparent who was born in the Republic of Ireland.

The Northern Ireland governing body argued that players such as Gibson, whose parents and grandparents were born in Northern Ireland, should not be allowed to declare for the Republic.

There are fears within the IFA that the player drain to the Republic could gather increasing speed.

The IFA has argued that the current situation puts it at a clear disadvantage against all other 206 associations.

The Northern Ireland association has been at loggerheads in recent years with the Republic's Football Association of Ireland (FAI) over the issue.

The IFA was hopeful that the issue would be resolved at a Fifa meeting in December 2007 but that international gathering failed to clarify the issue.

More than two years on, the IFA tried the option of the CAS although the FAI had continually expressed confidence that the body would not change the current position.

Fifa rules include a clause allowing players to change nationality once before they play a senior competitive match if they were born "on the territory of the relevant association".

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 provided for Northern Ireland-born people to claim either British or Irish nationality.

Kearns, who attended the CAS hearing, was released by English club West Ham last season.

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see also
Court hears Irish player dispute
19 Jul 10 |  Irish
NI take legal route on player row
26 Feb 10 |  Irish
Duffy decision rocks Worthington
22 Feb 10 |  Irish
Wilson receives Republic call-up
22 Feb 10 |  Football
Fifa unable to clarify Irish row
16 Dec 07 |  Internationals
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
16 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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