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Republic steer clear of shirt row to focus on Austria trip

Roy Keane has insisted the Republic of Ireland will focus on preparations for their World Cup qualifier in Austria after bring caught up in a row over an Easter Rising symbol on shirts.

World governing body FIFA announced on Friday that it had opened disciplinary proceedings against the Football Association of Ireland over a symbol worn on the team's shirts in a friendly against Switzerland in March commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising.

Asked about the matter in Dublin on Tuesday morning, Keane was happy to leave it to the authorities.

He said: "I think as far as I can comment on it - is there a charge or something? I can't comment until the charge is sorted out. But listen, as coaching staff and players, we're focusing on the game. Let the FAI deal with that."

The symbol referred to the 100th anniversary of the uprising against British rule in Ireland, and the proceedings were brought as the English and Scottish football associations found themselves embroiled in a row over their plans to wear poppies during their World Cup qualifier on Armistice Day, November 11.

The FAI's director of communications Ian Mallon said: "There is a charge, which was brought last Friday, as you know, a disciplinary matter. We have until November 17 to respond and until after that point, we won't be making any comment on it."

FIFA has stated that the poppy symbol would breach its rules regarding political, religious or commercial messages being carried on players' equipment, though the definition of what is or is not political remains fiercely debated.

The FA and SFA insist the poppy is a symbol of remembrance and respect and should not be regarded as political.

Damian Collins MP, chairman of the Commons' Culture, Media and Sport select committee, admitted in an interview with the Irish Post last week that he had drawn attention to the Republic of Ireland jerseys in those discussions as he argued the England and Scotland case with FIFA.


From Belfast Telegraph