herald

Sunday 19 November 2017

Possible bans for O'Neill and McClean may prove pivotal

Key duo could miss crucial qualifiers as FIFA open proceedings after comments

(l-r) Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and midfielder James McClean could be suspended
for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Serbia following comments made about the referee in the recent draw with Austria. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
(l-r) Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and midfielder James McClean could be suspended for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Serbia following comments made about the referee in the recent draw with Austria. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and winger James McClean face the possibility of being banned for crucial World Cup qualifiers in September as FIFA open disciplinary proceedings following the 1-1 draw against Austria.

In the immediate aftermath of that game, when Shane Duffy had a late goal ruled out, McClean claimed that the Austrians had a "12th man".

A FIFA spokesperson said: "We can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened for such statements. Be informed that two cases were opened: one against James McClean and another one against the coach Martin O'Neill. Please understand that we can't make any further comments since the matter is ongoing."

Slightest

A clearly frustrated McClean told RTE after the final whistle: "Look, I know in this day and age, the slightest wee thing you say about a referee, you get fined and that. But you watched the game, you tell me.

"They had a 12th man today. That's all I'll say on that. I'm really disappointed. We should have came away from that game with three points but we didn't."

O'Neill also questioned the performance of the referee.

"I'm delighted to have got the equaliser and I thought that we had a legitimate, good goal disallowed. The referee wasn't totally to blame for our performance in the first half, but I thought he was very poor in the game," said O'Neill.

"Considering he was letting things go during the course of the game - that's fine, I like referees who let things go - but he seemed to be penalising us a great deal."

Duffy's effort, which would have put the Republic seven points clear of Group D rivals Austria with just four games to play, was chalked off when the official ruled that defender Stefan Lainer had been fouled, and Borbalan was also unimpressed when Walters went to ground under Aleksandar Dragovic's challenge. O'Neill added: "I'll tell you something now: there might have been a player called Andy Gray who wouldn't have scored a goal. They'd have to take almost 400 goals off him.

Closer

"When he (the referee) first pointed, I thought he'd obviously given it. The linesman is halfway up the pitch - he's closer to me than he is to the game. Once or twice, I was close to him as well. Listen, I can't change it. I thought it was a good goal and funnily enough, Jon Walters, it is a penalty, he's caught his foot."

Austrian defender Sebastien Prodl said afterwards that Duffy's late disallowed goal should have stood.

"I would attack in the same way," Prodl said. "I think a British referee wouldn't have whistled but lucky for us he was a Spanish referee and he gave a foul."

The draw saw Ireland stay on top of the group, level on points with Serbia.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News