Belfast Telegraph

‘Football is played every day, it was a matter of time until this happened’

Some views on the row over football being played on a Sunday in Northern Ireland.

Michael O'Neill Northern Ireland manager:

"We appreciate and understand people's religious beliefs - but the game must be played on Sunday, as that date was decreed when the fixture was made by Uefa. We hope for a victory, and for the usual wonderful support from the fans."

Gerry Armstrong Former Northern Ireland striker:

"We knew this was coming for a long time. I thought it would have happened a lot sooner. Sunday football has been happening in other countries for years. In the 1982 World Cup we had games on a Sunday. You see Premiership games on a Sunday, rugby is the same - it's just the norm now. I don't see it as a big deal."

Jackie Fullerton BBC NI soccer commentator and former player:

"This is a development that will not find universal favour.

"As a Methodist church-goer myself, I have reservations.

"But in the modern world, football is played on every day of the week - so I think it was only a matter of time before our tradition of not playing internationals on Sundays came to an end. Many fans will be there, but there will also be people who will feel unable to attend because it is played on a Sunday.

"While there will be many who will embrace this new development, there will also be those for whom it represents an unwelcome break with tradition."

Gary McAllister Northern Ireland fans' spokesman:

"When you factor in the IFA's decision in 2007 to permit Sunday football, it was always a possibility that this precedent would arise.

"That being the case, it is totally unrealistic to ask Northern Ireland to forfeit the match or to withdraw from the competition, as some have previously suggested.

"Whatever one's view is regarding Observance, more and more everyday activity takes place on a Sunday, including sporting and recreational activity. It is now commonplace."

Jim Shaw Irish FA president:

"People are entitled to protest if they so desire.

"The decision to play on Sunday is outside our control. European qualifiers are now part of Uefa's week of football, which runs from Thursday to Tuesday.

"Uefa are maximising the number of games they can show on TV and they are in control of when fixtures are played. We were told we could dispute it, but we couldn't change it."

Rev David McIlveen Retired Free Presbyterian minister:

"There will be a protest on Sunday and a witness against the playing of the game on the Lord's Day.

"We have seen over the years the gradual eroding of the Lord's Day in terms of its sanctity.

"This is just another indication that people are sadly being brought to a position where the Lord's Day is no longer respected in reverence in the way that we believe the Bible teaches that it should be."

Michael Halliday Ex-Glentoran striker and Christian:

"While Sunday is an important day for being a Christian, there is the rest of the week as well. You're not just a Christian on a Sunday.

"Each and every person needs to make their own mind up on it.

"While I would rather football wasn't played on a Sunday, the reality of it is that football is now so big and so commercial that it will be."

Patrick Nelson Chief Executive of the IFA:

"I'm strongly in favour of the Northern Ireland team playing in Uefa and Fifa tournaments, and if we are to comply with Uefa rules, this match must be played on Sunday."

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