Football: Passport problem for McAteer

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The Independent Online
Jason McAteer, the Liverpool midfield player, has been forced to go to court to clear himself to play for the Republic of Ireland in tomorrow's World Cup qualifying match against Iceland at Lansdowne Road.

McAteer made a two-minute appearance at Ballybay District Court in Co Monaghan yesterday to seek Irish citizenship.

The 25-year-old did not possess an Irish passport, and the Irish Football Association chief executive, Bernard O'Byrne, said: "Under new Fifa laws, we must present Irish passports to the official observer before each match. This matter was only brought to our notice before the recent game with Macedonia, so we've been sorting it out.

"In the past, two or three players did not carry Irish passports but we will present 18 Irish passports to the observer before the game. There is absolutely no question that Jason does not qualify to play for us."

John Aldridge and Tony Cascarino have also had similar passport problems sorted out in the past month.

Mick McCarthy, the Republic manager, has yet to decide whether Roy Keane's comeback will be in central defence or his normal Manchester United midfield role. Keane has been playing in defence in practice matches and McCarthy said: "I wanted to see how Roy fitted into the position as I already know his qualities in midfield."

Bolton's Gudni Bergsson, who had been hoping to set a new Icelandic record with 72 caps, has been ruled out, and Iceland are also without Bjarki and Arnar Gunnlaugsson, twin brothers who have been regulars. The only English-based player in the team is Stoke's Larus Sigurdsson, although the former Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal midfielder Siggi Jonsson is also in the 18-man squad.

REP OF IRELAND v ICELAND

(at Lansdowne Road, Dublin; tomorrow, 3.0)

Group Eight

P W D L F A Pts

Rep of Ireland 2 2 0 0 8 0 6

Romania 2 2 0 0 7 0 6

Lithuania 3 2 0 1 4 4 6

Macedonia 3 1 1 1 4 4 4

Iceland 3 0 1 2 1 7 1

Liechtenstein 3 0 0 3 1 10 0

RESULTS: 1996: 24 Apr: Macedonia 3 (Milosevski 5, Babunski pen 49, Zaharievski 80) Liechtenstein 0. 1 June: Iceland 1 (A Gudjohnsen 64) Macedonia 1 (Memed 6). 31 Aug: Liechtenstein 0 Republic of Ireland 5 (Townsend 5, O'Neill 7, Quinn 11, 61, Harte 19); Romania 3 (Moldovan 20, Petrescu 65, Galca 77) Lithuania 0. 5 Oct: Lithuania 2 (Jankauskas pen 22, Slekys 73) Iceland 0. 9 Oct: Iceland 0 Romania 4 (Moldovan 22, Hagi 60, Popescu 75, Petrescu 89); Republic of Ireland 3 (McAteer 8, Cascarino 47, 70) Macedonia 0; Lithuania 2 (Jankauskas 43, Narbekovas 55) Liechtenstein 1 (Zech 53).

FIXTURES: Today: Liechtenstein v Macedonia. Tomorrow: Republic of Ireland v Iceland. 14 Dec: Macedonia v Romania. 1997: 29 Mar: Romania v Liechtenstein. 2 Apr: Lithuania v Romania; Macedonia v Republic of Ireland. 30 Apr: Liechtenstein v Lithuania; Romania v Republic of Ireland. 7 June: Republic of Ireland v Liechtenstein; Macedonia v Iceland. 11 June: Iceland v Lithuania. 19 Aug: Liechtenstein v Iceland. 20 Aug: Republic of Ireland v Lithuania; Romania v Macedonia. 6 Sept: Iceland v Republic of Ireland; Liechtenstein v Romania; Lithuania v Macedonia. 10 Sept: Romania v Iceland; Lithuania v Republic of Ireland. 11 Oct: Iceland v Liechtenstein; Republic of Ireland v Romania; Macedonia v Lithuania.

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