Belfast Telegraph

Irish FA awaits eligibility ruling

The Irish FA is on the brink of discovering whether or not they have managed to defeat FIFA and the Republic of Ireland over player eligibility.

The on-going wrangle over Northern Ireland-born players switching their allegiance to the Republic of Ireland after — in some cases — representing the IFA up to under-19 level could end today when the Court of Arbitration for Sport reveals its decision on the matter.

For some time now Windsor Avenue chiefs have been battling with football’s governing body to enforce regulations which they believe bar the Republic of Ireland from selecting Northern Ireland-born players who don’t have a family bloodline south of the border for their representative teams — but failed in their repeated attempts to get FIFA to enforce their own statutes.

On Monday of last week that battle went to the CAS and the IFA will today discover if the fight has been won.

The CAS has finalised its decision and will announce the outcome of the case this afternoon.

Both the IFA and the Football Association of Ireland were in Lausanne, Switzerland, along with representatives of FIFA, to attend the hearing, as was former West Ham United player Daniel Kearns.

West-Belfast native Kearns played for Northern Ireland up until under-19 level, but last year joined what has become an ever-growing list of teenage footballers to perform a turnaround and declare for the Republic.

As the most recent player to do so, the IFA presented Kearns as the case they wanted to fight, in the hope that the loophole which the FAI believes exists and permits them to pick any player born on the island of Ireland can be closed once and for all.

Belfast Telegraph

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