Football: McCarthy angered by waiving of five-day rule

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The Independent Online
MICK McCARTHY, the Republic of Ireland's manager, criticised football's governing body, Fifa, last night for making an exception to the five-day rule and allowing Ireland's players to play for their clubs this weekend.

The Republic, with a rearranged Group Eight European Championship qualifier against Yugoslavia in Belgrade on Wednesday, have been instructed to release players for their weekend Premiership and First Division matches.

"It's a joke," said McCarthy, acknowledging the move was good news for the likes of Charlton, who faced losing the midfielder Mark Kinsella to his squad and their goalkeeper, Sasa Ilic, to the Yugoslavs. "But I've no axe to grind with those English bosses who were protecting their club's interest, their own jobs and their supporters. The people I am really angry with are Fifa. You either have a five-day release rule or not. It certainly hasn't helped me in my preparations for Belgrade."

McCarthy was responding to a Fifa about-turn by suggesting to both the Football Association of Ireland and the Yugoslav national association that they conform to a relaxation of usual rules for internationals.

Fifa's official website referred to a "pragmatic solution" but the FAI chief executive, Bernard O'Byrne, said the Fifa message was received in Dublin with "utter disbelief". He said: "It is clear Fifa will not apply their own rules in this situation. They have not cited any reason for this decision and have suggested that while the FAI wanted Fifa to apply the five-day release rule, the Yugoslav FA were agreeable to clubs retaining their players this weekend.

"It is clear that Fifa have sided with the Yugoslavs and the various clubs that have contacted them. No attention was made to our request to apply the current rules." The Republic have maximum points from their opening games - a 2-0 win over Croatia followed up by a 5-0 hammering of Malta.

The original Yugoslav fixture on 10 October was postponed because of political unrest in the region. Phil Babb is out of the Republic's squad for the trip to Belgrade - the Liverpool defender has not played club football since injuring a bone in his back after colliding with an upright against Chelsea five weeks ago. With 19 players in the squad, no replacement has been called up.

The Oxford United winger, Joey Beauchamp, has asked for time to think over a pounds 800,000 move to Nottingham Forest.