Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

England to face Republic of Ireland in friendly

Wembley will host key fixtures as the FA celebrates its 150th anniversary

England will launch the Football Association's 150th anniversary celebrations with matches against Brazil and the Republic of Ireland next year.

Five-times World Cup winners Brazil will visit Wembley in February as part of a two-match arrangement that will see England head to South America for a short tour in June.

Immediately before that, the Three Lions will take on the Republic of Ireland for the first time since their fixture in Dublin 17 years ago which was abandoned because of crowd trouble.

While the February 6 encounter with Brazil is bound to be attractive, given the South Americans were recently in the UK for the Olympics and played Team GB just before, arguably the Irish match on May 29 is of more significance.

Certainly, Wembley is likely to be full given the interest there is bound to be from the Irish fans in their side's first visit to the stadium since 1991.

For the FA, the high-profile fixtures are in keeping with the rest of their 150th anniversary celebrations.

A match against Scotland has already been confirmed for August, with another fixture planned - possibly against Uruguay - next summer.

The FA have already assured Premier League bosses their players will be back in England by June 11, when World Cup qualifying games will still be being played elsewhere.

Club England managing director Adrian Bevington said: "We're delighted Brazil will kick-off the FA's 150th anniversary celebrations at Wembley.

"2013 is a landmark year for The FA and an exciting England fixture programme in addition to Wembley hosting the UEFA Champions League Final will form a key part of the celebrations.

"As the most successful footballing nation, with great players and supporters, it will be fantastic to launch this important year in English football's history against such outstanding opponents as Brazil.

"We also look forward to hosting Republic of Ireland and Scotland at Wembley next year. These matches are sure to evoke great passion among supporters."

And, as Bevington pointed out, the South American expedition will be vital preparation for a tilt at the World Cup, which is being hosted by Brazil in 2014.

"We have been planning the fixtures in Brazil for over a year, as a key part of our preparation for 2014 - subject to qualification," he said.

"Our players do not have any experience of playing in South America and it will undoubtedly be beneficial for the team to travel and play in Brazil, a year ahead of the World Cup. We negotiated our qualifying schedule with a specific view to allowing this.

"While in Brazil, The FA and England squad will play an active role in developing and supporting a charity programme both in advance of and during the summer of 2013 and 2014."