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Should the IFA and the FAI merge ? January 30, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, Sports.

Last week, our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, suggested that the F.A.I. and the I.F.A. merge, forming one national football association on this island. This would have a number of consequences, not the least of which would be a single representative team representing the island of Ireland.

The positives and negatives of a move such as this would be sure to cause much tea-room chat around these islands and is sure to create much opposition.

Before a process like this gets hijacked by the whole political, nationalist vs. unionist and national identity debate, let’s look at the scenario from a more sporting point of view. There are at present 2 national associations and therefore two representative teams on the island, one representing Northern Ireland (IFA) and the other, the Republic of Ireland (FAI). Northern Ireland have not qualified for a major championship of any sort since 1986 and the Republic have only qualified for 4 out of the 11 finals in that same 20 year period. So it’s safe to say Irish football, north and south of the border, isn’t up to much these days (notable one off results an exception).

From a footballing standpoint, I think the idea is a good one. More players to choose from, one league on the island with more teams and more divisions and an opportunity to improve the standard – hopefully this would lead to a better “Ireland” team.

Now bring in the other side of the coin – the politics, the teams being seen as a “United Ireland” team and so on … there has been a fierce amount of debate about it which in my mind is missing the point. Can this issue not be discussed from a football point of view ? and if the answer is ‘no’, then aren’t we just back at square one when it comes to better cooperation and good relations with Northern Ireland ?

Maybe it is time to drop this whole identity thing we have going. We signed away our supposed “right” to the North’s territory in the Good Friday Agreement remember ? It’s time to move forward, not as a united republic that those in the North don’t want and not as a separate Ulster that exists at the moment … yadda yadda … have I a point ? Maybe it’s too simple to say “Let’s be one sports team !” without bringing politics into it ?

Sporting-wise they are already doing it with rugby, hockey, cycling …. They’ve rightly changed the songs, the attitudes and such so why cannot football follow suit, without the politics ? Let the politics stay where they are and the sports prosper …

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1. GerryOS - January 31, 2007

But the IFA, being farmers, would surely be GAA men?

Oh, hang … you mean the other IFA… 🙂

2. Rambling Man - January 31, 2007

har har ! we might as well get a team from the farmer’s IFA to play for us at the moment – did you see the recent squad ?

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