Much has been written about life and sport in Ireland. In Northern Ireland, such discourse has rarely strayed from the issue of identity politics and all aspects ofsociety appear, even in an era of peace, to reflect some degree of partisanship,including within the realm of association football. In the Republic of Ireland,the emphasis has increasingly been on the growing multiculturalism of that stateand at present there exists a real challenge to all aspects of civic society to domore to integrate ‘new arrivals’ into Irish life in a more convincing manner thanhas been the case to date. And so, this is essentially what this article intends toexamine – the role football authorities in Ireland can and do play in utlising thegame as a means of integrating ethnic minorities into everyday life. There areexamples of impactful work already taking place in this regard – notably on thepart of the Irish Football Association’s (IFA’s) innovative World United programme,whilst there also remains shortcomings around the approach adoptedboth by the IFA and the Football Association of Ireland and these are criticallyengaged with throughout this article. Finally, in the spirit of finding a constructiveway forward, the somewhat recalcitrant and authoritarian approach to grantingeligibility to some of the very best young footballers on the island,including those living in the Republic of Ireland’s designated refugee centrenorth of Dublin, is afforded due recognition.
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