FIFA rules may lead to loss of Roman Catholic players in NI team
Yet the irony is that FIFA’s new eligibility guidelines may lead to precisely the sort of sectarian abuse which Mr Lennon has suffered, with Roman Catholics opting to play for the Republic of Ireland football team and Protestants opting for Northern Ireland.
Speaking at Stormont, Sports Minister Edwin Poots MLA said that ‘throughout the darkest days of the troubles, the Northern Ireland team had been made up of players from across the political and religious divides’. But under FIFA plans, any player born in Northern Ireland may play for the Republic, and vice versa. There is a united-Ireland approach over which Sinn Fein will doubtless rejoice, but the right for anyone born on the island to play for either jurisdiction will dismantle the very mechanism which has served the Northern Ireland team so well.
It is the contention of the Irish Football Association that players born in Northern Ireland should play international football for Northern Ireland. And Cranmer favours this proposal, eschewing this ‘free movement of people’ nonsense which was only ever designed as a mechanism for the destruction of national identity and to further political integration with the elimination of the nation state. But Cranmer would go further, and prohibit the national team from being managed by foreigners, for it would be an undoubted irony and ultimate shame the day we see England managed by a German. Where would his heart be? To whom would his superior allegiance be? And even if one could be sure of a transplanted patriotism (which is doubtful), the notion that England could only win when managed by a German irks somewhat.
But doubtless all this conjecture is ‘racist’. So let us stick with Mr Poots and talk of Protestant and Catholic bigotry, for it is much safer ground…