Home / EPL / Firebombs and Footballs: Time for an All-Ireland Football Team


The game of football is often lauded by FIFA, international charities, and myself as a culture that binds the world together across normally rigid boundaries. Unfortunately, in the North of Ireland, the opposite is true. Early yesterday morning, the home of the mother of Northern Ireland and Fulham footballer Chris Baird was attacked in Rasharkin, County Antrim with a petrol bomb. Basically, a crude form of Molotov cocktail, the bombs set the front of the house on fire, but was put out quickly. Thankfully, no one was hurt. This is a symptom of the long standing political problems between Protestants and Catholics in the North.  While I won’t go into it here, suffice it to say that the two sides have been knocking the snot out of each other since the 1200’s, and while there is a peace agreement in effect, there’s still a hangover of violence.

In the North, both sides indentified themselves not only by religion, but through what sports they play, and what teams they support.  For example, Catholics wear Glasgow Celtic jerseys, while Protestants support Rangers, and neither can wear either jersey to a pub or restaurant as they are banned for the fights they cause between customers. Historically, the Northern Irish football team has been supported by, and dominated by, Protestants, so having Baird, a Catholic, as a player and often captain is a great step forward. However, it seems some are not happy with having a Catholic on the team, and decided to firebomb his mum’s house.  The problem is not one-sided, someone pushed a bullet through the mail slot of a Protestant house later that day in the same town, but it shows that they are still serious problems with the game in Northern Ireland.

The one positive from this ugly incident is that both sides seem to be genuinely outraged that this happened in the community, and have called for calm, but a longer term solution needs to be found. This same problem used to haunt the Northern Irish rugby team, and was only solved when it was decided that the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland would combine their squads to form one team. Many said it would be a disaster, but the fact is it made both sides stronger, their record proves it, and led to the end of sectarianism in the sport. The FAI and Northern Irish football Association should take note of this example and try to walk the same path.

It won’t be easy, but the attack on Baird’s family home proves things have gotten out of hand and its time to restore some sanity to the game. It might also mean that Ireland might have a hope of winning an international competition instead of looking like a pack of kittens getting hit with tennis rackets, something neither side has ever accomplished. I can imagine a “dream team” made up of the best of both sides, standing on the podium waiting to be presented with the European Championship. What a day that would be.

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Matt got his new Ronaldo jersey at soccerpro.com


About the author: Matthew Wall


I've played soccer since I could walk thanks to my father and love keeping up on all the latest gear and gab. I'm in my twenties, and I'm lucky enough to have found work in search marketing for a leading soccer retailer after completing my M.A. at Georgetown in 2008. My team is Liverpool, and national side is Ireland, but I've also got a passion for GAA and a number of sports. Feel free to give me a shout on Google+


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