FAI confirm Duff fully entitled to his 100-cap tally

 

WITH THE national team’s seeding at the next World Cup potentially at stake, the FAI must wait to see if the Hungarian association can persuade Fifa to retrospectively recognise the Republic of Ireland’s game in Budapest immediately prior to the European Championships in June.

The organisation insists, however, that caps earned by Irish players during the game will count regardless, thus ensuring Damien Duff gets to maintain his tally of 100 senior appearances for his country.

The issue arose after it emerged Fifa would not accord the game full international status because not all of the Danish officials recruited for the game were registered with the game’s governing body at the time of the match.

One of the assistant referees – David Vang Andersen – was not on Fifa list of international referees and as such was not entitled to officiate at a full international game.

The upshot is that Fifa has not recognised the game for the purposes of its world ranking calculations. Ireland are currently 26th on the list but would be comfortably inside the top 20 if the team had received the rough 160 ranking points it should have received for the draw achieved in the Hungarian capital.

The list has a good deal of prestige attached to it but there can be some significant practical value too with rankings occasionally of some importance when friendly internationals are being negotiated and, most significantly, when draws for Fifa-organised competitions are being made.

Ahead of the finals tournament in South Africa in 2010 the seedings were based on the world rankings and in the event that Ireland was to qualify from what is a tough looking group, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the points lost because of the error could result in the team slipping from one pot to another.

The FAI insists, however, that the Hungarians are attempting to resolve the issue. “As an away match, the Hungarian FA was responsible for all aspects of the fixture,” it said in a statement yesterday. “The Hungarian FA said this morning that they were unaware of the matter but have been in contact with Fifa.

“They said that they intend to continue their discussions with Fifa in order to have the fixture recognised for international ranking purposes.

“Separately,” the statement continued, Fifa and Uefa confirmed “that the decision to award a cap is at the discretion of the national association and that they do not keep a central record of caps.”

The association points to the fact that it awarded caps for the abandoned game against England in 1995, and that Irish players had previously been awarded caps for participating in games against German and Italian “B” team even though these matches were not officially recognised by Fifa.

“The FAI has decided that the players who participated in the [Hungary] fixture deserve caps,” it said, “particularly Damien Duff for the service that he gave to his country. Consequently, the association has informed Damien that it will recognise his status as having earned 100 caps for Ireland.”

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