Paul McVeigh urges Irish FA to make radical changes


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The Independent Football

Former Northern Ireland player Paul McVeigh has urged the Irish Football Association to drop God Save The Queen as their national anthem and consider a move from Windsor Park.

The issue of Northern Ireland-born players declaring for the Republic of Ireland has become a problem for the IFA, with the likes of Darron Gibson, Shane Duffy, Dan Kearns, Paul George and James McClean all pledging themselves to the Football Association of Ireland.

While the Republic's relative success on the pitch is one explanation, personal beliefs also play a part with some players, who find it hard to reconcile their nationalist views with symbols such as the anthem.

West Belfast man McVeigh, who earned 20 caps between 1999 and 2004, has called for a change of policy from the IFA to increase their appeal to all areas of the community.

"The IFA has to make decisions if it wants to stop players from the north opting to play for the Republic and the answers are staring them in the face," the former Norwich player told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Who are the people who make decisions at IFA level and can they really say that it is a good thing for football in Northern Ireland to have the English anthem played before games?

"Northern Ireland, as long as it continues with that anthem, will not have an identity of its own and players will continue to turn to the Republic.

"I don't care if the next manager of Northern Ireland is Fabio Capello; whoever gets the job starts it with his hands tied behind his back because he will not have many of the best players from the country to choose from."

McVeigh also feels a move away from Linfield's Windsor Park could be beneficial to the national side.

He said: "I have no doubt that it is a tough decision for some players to play at Windsor Park and stand before the English national anthem at Northern Ireland internationals.

"The decision makers should sit down and ask themselves if their decision to continue with the anthem and continue playing at Windsor Park is beneficial to Northern Ireland."