Northern Ireland legends Carroll and Feeney set to sue IFA after social media insult
Two fuming ex-Northern Ireland internationals are preparing to show the Irish Football Association the red card in court.
Striker Warren Feeney and goalkeeper Roy Carroll have started legal proceedings against Northern Ireland football's governing body following an own goal by the IFA's social media team last week.
In bizarre posts on its official Twitter and Facebook profiles to announce the squad for upcoming games against the Netherlands and Czech Republic, the IFA simulated a What's App exchange between manager Michael O'Neill and former players Feeney, Carroll and Gareth McAuley.
East Belfast-born Feeney, who appeared 46 times for Northern Ireland, scored five internationals goals and retired in 2011, was portrayed as a belittled ex-player desperate for a return to the international squad. Former Manchester United goalkeeper Carroll, capped on 45 occasions by his country, came across as someone embarrassed by Feeney's actions.
In a statement issued to Sunday Life last night the IFA said: "We consider our former players as legends and would never intend to cause them any offence.
"As soon as a complaint was received the IFA immediately removed the post and the chief executive personally contacted Warren to apologise for any upset caused."
Sunday Life understands none of the three men gave permission for their names to be used and when IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson (right) was made aware of the social media post on Thursday afternoon, he immediately ordered for it to be taken down and gave his social media team a dressing down.
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But the post had already been viewed thousands of times before being removed.
The IFA's Twitter and Facebook pages have a combined following of over 160,000 fans.
In a statement issued to Sunday Life, Feeney said: "I don't want to say anything at this stage except that I'm disappointed, I'm considering all my options and I am taking advice in that regard."
It's understood under-fire Nelson also made a frantic call to Feeney to apologise profusely and insist "we view our former international players as heroes".
Fermanagh favourite Carroll has told Feeney he also considers the post to be deeply disrespectful and will join the current Ards manager in any action against the IFA.
An insider told Sunday Life: "Warren isn't on social media but he was made aware of the content.
"He likes a joke, enjoys a laugh but feels this has crossed a line and his character and integrity have been defamed and the social media posting is very disrespectful.
"Warren was proud to represent his country but feels let down and wonders if the posting is a true representation of the IFA's view of him.
"Warren is a football manager, has been boss of Linfield and in England's League Two, and has worked hard to build up a strong reputation. He feels that has been tarnished by a supposed tongue-in-cheek joke that has backfired big style."