Sunday, October 08, 2006
People with at least a passing interest in Irish football will have already made up their own mind about this result. Considering that most of the empty seats in Nicosia were explained by Cypriot fans protesting against their team's bad form, an appropriate protest by the now long-suffering Irish fans would be to desert Lansdowne Road for the game against the Czechs on Wednesday night. I did not watch the game, partly because the memory of the same game spoiling my birthday at the same time last year was too raw (reading a pre-match article in The Guardian which stated that we were outplayed by Cyprus - despite winning - was too much) and partly because France-Scotland was on at almost the same time, well done to the Jocks on that one. I had a bad feeling about the Ireland game since Steve Staunton picked up his suspension in Stuttgart last month. Reports indicate that Cyprus might have scored even more. As a Danish friend reminded me after the game this is one of the biggest humiliations ever in international football. We were not merely beaten by an opportunist opponent but completely embarrassed. The players, the coaching staff and the FAI need to understand this. After four defeats in five games it should be clear that Staunton is not up to the job and he has to step down after Wednesday's game. And the FAI's entire executive board, who promised a 'world-class manager' to us last winter should be next to go. Putting a Charlton-era old boy in the hot seat was obviously a conveniently cosy appointment for them but they have been sorely found out. The corruption within the FAI is not in any way more different from that in Irish society as a whole but I think it would be an interesting experiment if running this rotten organisation might be outsourced for a year or two to the GAA. As charmless as the flat-cap gombeen men might be, they get things done, and generally in an efficient way. This most Irish of sporting associations is the least Irish in terms of competence. We are not going to get anywhere near Austria/Switzerland but the rot should be stopped straight away all the same.