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Fresh bid to tackle Sunday football ban

By Claire McNeilly

Published 03/09/2007

The Irish Football Association is to again consider a reversal of the 60-year-ban on Sunday football in Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

The never-on-a-Sunday policy is unique to the province as no other member of Uefa, European football's governing body, prohibits games on the Sabbath.

But, last night the IFA's chief executive, Howard Wells said that the ban could be overturned as early as next month.

"This issue will be raised again at an extraordinary general meeting at the end of October," said Mr Wells. "We're the only country in Uefa that doesn't allow football on a Sunday and we have to recognise that things are changing. We have to move with the times.

"We have to find a solution that suits all. We don't want to force people to do things that are against their beliefs or cultures, but people have a right to choose."

Mr Wells said that the IFA had signed up to an equality policy that treats all parts of the Northern Ireland community equally.

However, he added that there are drawbacks associated with the current Sunday ban.

"It restricts the game in terms of women's football in particular," he said. "It also has a negative impact on the number of adults available to watch senior games on a Saturday."

It is understood that an IFA report, yet to be made public, includes a proposal to lift the Sunday ban.

A number of senior Irish League clubs and individuals connected to local leagues have threatene to take legal action to have the ban repealed.

The Free Presbyterian Church has, however, warned that it would use its influence to thwart such a move.

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