Republic of Ireland women's team threaten to go on strike against 'fifth-class' treatment by FAI

Samuel Lovett
The Independent
Captain Emma Bryne said the side had
Captain Emma Bryne said the side had

The Republic of Ireland women’s football team have threatened to go on strike in protest against the “fifth-class citizen” treatment they have received from the Football Association of Ireland.

As a result, their game against Slovakia on Monday 10 April is now in question.

Players representative Stuart Gilhooly claimed that they were being treated as "fifth-class citizens, the dirt on the FAI's shoe”, while captain Emma Byrne said that the team was now “fighting for the future of women’s international football”.

The team, accompanied by a solicitor from the Professional Footballers' Association Of Ireland, publicised their grievances during a press conference on Tuesday.

Allegations were raised that the players had been forced to get change in public toilets on the way to games and, on numerous occasions, had shared tracksuits with the country’s youth women’s squads.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Byrne, who has played 127 times for her country, said that the team had "given up" trying to deal directly with the FAI.

"We are willing to do whatever it takes at this stage," she added.

"We are fighting for the future of women's international football. This isn't just about us.

"We are fighting for the future of women's international football. This isn't just about us.

Captain Emma Bryne

"I know players who have had to stop playing. They made the decision they couldn't play anymore."

Republic forward Aine O'Gorman said that the FAI had warned the players that going public with their grievances could "endanger their careers at club and international level"

In response, an FAI statement said the governing body was "deeply disappointed that members of the team have threatened to withdraw from playing for their country".

"The ultimatum by the players concerned comes in spite of repeated invitations from the FAI to the players to discuss clear and tangible financial offers for the payment and compensation of members of the squad," said the statement.

"On five occasions in recent months the FAI has attempted to bring the players to the table, only to have the offer rebuked at every turn."

According to the FAI, the players had gone ahead with the protest despite the governing body’s agreement to stage conciliatory talks regarding the on-going dispute.

"The senior women's national team are provided the standards of care expected of a demanding high-performance environment, with top-level training facilities, hotel accommodation, dietary, fitness, performance analysis and medical and physio care,” the FAI added.

"The team has also received significant increases in budget in recent years to attain this high standard, as well as the appointment of a Champions League winning coach."

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