Saipan – an enduring mystery

Sir, – I read with interest Conor Pope's article on the Roy Keane/Mick McCarthy controversy in Saipan on the eve of the World Cup in Japan/South Korea 2002 (News, May 20th). I listened also to an accompanying podcast.

Why Saipan? I and other members of the Irish community in Japan were keenly interested and I wrote to the FAI in 2001 to report an invitation from a Japanese government minister to offer handsome stadium and other facilities north of Tokyo. I got no reply. Instead the FAI sent the team on a tortuous journey via Amsterdam and Tokyo and a further four-hour flight to Saipan, a Pacific island with no soccer experience or much facilities. It had little to offer except R&R for US service personnel in Japan.

Roy Keane’s relationship with Mick McCarthy, already strained, finally snapped, to no great surprise to the Irish community in Japan at the time.

Your journalists might look at why the Japanese government’s friendly invitation was ignored and why the team went instead to faraway Saipan. No other team did so, doing pre-match training in Japan or Korea, or in England’s case Dubai. – Yours, etc,



to Japan, 1995-2001),

Dalkey, Co Dublin.