Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Costa Rica nothing to do with us: IFA

Innocent: Patrick Nelson says IFA are not talking to Costa Rica

Rumours of Northern Ireland facing Costa Rica in June have been greatly exaggerated.

The Costa Rica Football Federation outlined details of a match against Northern Ireland on its official website this week – but that was news to the Irish Football Association.

The Irish FA badge was used to illustrate the story and inevitably the Green and White Army went searching for the truth.

Northern Ireland have already arranged friendlies against Uruguay in Montevideo on May 30 and Chile in Valparaiso on June 4.

At the end of a demanding season, June is not a popular international date for players so eyebrows were raised when Costa Rica claimed Northern Ireland would be opponents on June 7 at Gillette Stadium, near Boston.

But Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson and the association's president Jim Shaw say they are as amazed at the news as supporters.

The confusion raises the possibility that Costa Rica were in talks with the Republic of Ireland rather than the Irish FA.

"It's nothing to do with us and we haven't been speaking to them," said Nelson. "We have no plans to speak to them either or arrange a game. I don't know where it has come from but it's nothing to do with us – we are innocent on this one! It's probably a simple mistake with there being two teams on our island."

Shaw said he was also surprised by the news.

"It wouldn't be the first time the Irelands have been mixed up," he said. "It's probably more common for us to be viewed as the Republic. I've absolutely no knowledge of this – we haven't been talking to them.

"We are playing Uruguay and Chile and we are happy with those games as peparation for the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

"The Chile game is on June 4 so we would have a very busy June schedule if we had to face Costa Rica as well!"

Gary McAllister, official spokesperson for the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs, added on Twitter: "I'm advised by the IFA that they aren't lining up a friendly with Costa Rica in June. Think someone's got their Ireland teams mixed up!"

Costa Rica, like Uruguay, are in England's World Cup group.

The serious business for Northern Ireland starts with the Euro 2016 qualifiers, kicking off with a tough assignment in Hungary on September 7.

Michael O'Neill's side were held 0-0 by Cyprus following a poor showing in Nicosia earlier this month.

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