Fifa orders Georgia to find neutral venue for qualifier

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The Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and his players were today waiting to discover where they will play their opening World Cup qualifier after Fifa ordered a change of venue. Ireland were due to begin their campaign in Georgia on 6 September, but the current political situation in the former Soviet state has prompted the world governing body to order the hosts to find a neutral country in which to play.

Georgia have until next Wednesday to nominate another venue for the game. A statement on the Football Association of Ireland's official website, www.fai.ie, said: "Fifa today confirmed that it has asked the Georgian FA to nominate a neutral venue for the Group 8 World Cup qualifier match against the Republic of Ireland on September 6. Fifa has indicated that it expects to confirm the new venue next week."

The news came as Trapattoni prepared to put his players through their paces at Oslo's Ullevaal Stadium ahead of tonight's friendly with Norway, their last warm-up game before the qualifying campaign gets under way. The Republic are due to face Georgia and Montenegro within four days in a tough start to their attempt to reach the 2010 finals in South Africa.

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