CAS upholds Kearns' Ireland switch
Northern Ireland football chiefs have suffered a crushing defeat in their attempts to prevent players switching to play for Ireland.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne on Friday rejected an appeal by the Irish FA against FIFA and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) allowing Belfast-born Daniel Kearns to play for Ireland. Kearns, 18, represented Northern Ireland at under-17 level but switched to play for Ireland this year and played in two European Under-19 Championship matches.
A statement from CAS said: "The CAS panel dismissed the appeal and confirmed the decision issued by the single judge of the FIFA players' status committee, which recognised that Daniel Kearns was eligible to play for the national team of the FAI."
Under the Good Friday Agreement, Irish passports can be held by Irish citizens born on either side of the border. However the IFA have been trying to prevent a talent drain of players and have been arguing that players born in Northern Ireland without family links to the south should not be allowed to play for Ireland.
Kearns, who was released by West Ham at the end of last season, joined the likes of Manchester United's Darron Gibson and Portsmouth's Marc Wilson in switching allegiance from Northern Ireland to Ireland.
FIFA's players' status committee had ruled that Kearns fulfilled the requirements in that he had never represented Northern Ireland in an official competition at senior international level.