The Ulster Unionist Party’s sports spokesperson, Andy Allen MLA, has rejected Sinn Fein calls for the Irish Football Association to cancel its International friendly with Israel, scheduled to be played in Belfast in September.
Andy Allen MLA said:
"I completely reject Sinn Fein’s efforts to apply political pressure on the IFA regarding September’s planned friendly match with Israel.
“Today it was reported that Sinn Fein MLA Sinead Ennis met with IFA officials and asked the Association to ‘reconsider’ the friendly international match.
“Normally Sinn Fein representatives are incapable of joining the words Northern and Ireland in the same sentence, and traditionally their only interest in the Northern Ireland International side is to call for its disbandment. Therefore, they will have to forgive Northern Ireland fans like myself for treating anything they have to say about the team with a fair degree of scepticism.
“Quite simply, Sinn Fein is once again trying to inject politics into sport. They may not like the fact that Northern Ireland exists and has an International football team. They may also not like the fact that Israel exists and also has an International football team.
“But no matter what they do or do not like, they have no right to seek to interfere with the IFA’s independence and freedom to decide who it can and cannot play in friendly international matches.
“While Sinn Fein may have a veto over the restoration of Stormont, they need to realise that they do not get to pick and choose who the Northern Ireland football team can or cannot play.”