Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Finland: Christian protests expected at Sunday football match

Northern Ireland will take on Finland in the Euro 2016 home qualifier

Religious protests are expected to be held this Sunday as Northern Ireland play their first home international game on the Sabbath.

Sunday football games have always been a contentious issue but while Northern Ireland have played abroad on the Sabbath they have never played a home international on a Sunday.

Uefa, and not the countries, have arranged the dates of the upcoming qualifying campaign.

Northern Ireland will take on Finland in the Euro 2016 home qualifier.

At the time of the announcement last February there were calls for the Irish FA to ask European Football's governing body Uefa to switch the match to a weekday.

At the time IFA president Jim Shaw saw the matter was outside its control and there was no chance of the game being moved.

A Christian protest  is expected to take place on Sunday.

The Evangelical Protestant Society has issued a statement in which it said the football match was "yet another step towards erosion of Lord's day in Northern Ireland".

"Our Province once held resolutely to Sunday observance, but those days are long gone. Church attendance is in decline and Sunday has become a day for shopping, sport and recreation. Far too many sporting and social events are now organised on Sundays with, it seems, scant regard for the rights of evangelicals who, because of their faith, are unable to be involved.

"Many evangelical Protestants are ardent fans of the national team and would dearly love to be present at the match. We wonder what efforts, if any, were made to have Sunday’s fixture re-arranged. We also wonder what, if any, consultation has been held with churches and residents in the area around Windsor Park in relation to how the match might affect them."

Further reading

Michael O'Neill urges young players to seize their chances

Northern Ireland aim to scratch friendly itch with Scotland

O'Neill: Hampden will boost players 

Another happy Hampden Park memory is the aim for Steven Davis

Waterfront Hall overwhelmed as Christians close ranks round embattled Ashers Bakery boss

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