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Sporting Ennistymon's Eddie Crowe pictured on the sideline with and Liam Marum. Photograph by John Kelly.

Sporting Ennistymon speak out after refugee and relegation row

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Sporting Ennistymon have spoken out on the controversy surrounding the registration of a Ukrainian refugee.

The club have published a statement in which they outline their grievances with the process.

The controversy arises over the need for the player in question to obtain an International Transfer Clearance (ITC) with the club believing they did not need to obtain one for the player to line out with them.

However, they did and due to the confusion, Sporting were docked five points which subsequently meant they needed to play a Promotion/Relegation Play Off.

Had they not received the penalty, the club would be guaranteed Premier Division football next season.

In the club’s statement, they argue that a lack of information and clarity was provided by the FAI surrounding the rules with regards to registering a Ukrainian refugee.

They also contend that the website used to register players, FAInet, is inadequate while also stating their belief that the FIFA rule in relation to this topic is too vague.

“Sporting Ennistymon F.C has done our very best to assist in integrating refugees moving to the local area. We have nearly exhausted all avenues in relation to welcoming some adult Ukrainian refugees to our club, but issues arose after registering one of the players in March due to various reasons including:
• A lack of guidelines and instructions from the FAI.
• The registration software, FAInet, is not fit for purpose and stating incorrect information regarding residents from Ukraine.
• A lack of clarification of FIFA Annexe 7 temporary rule changes to refugee player status from Ukraine and Russia.
• The international protection of refugees.”

Sporting Ennistymon’s joint manager Eddie Crowe argues the facilities were not in place to register the player in question.

“Our gripe is that with this young player, who by FIFA’s statement on March 6th had the right to be registered with the association, the proper processes were not there to register him.”

“They (the FAI) are the people paid to run football, they should be providing clubs and leagues with the guidelines, not leaving it to volunteers to guess their way through the process, we have enough to do.”

On page 96 of the March edition of FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, it states: “a player whose previous registration was in the UAF or the FUR, has the right to be registered by an association outside a registration period, provided that such registration occurs before or on the 7th of April 2022.”

The club state that they registered the player on March 25. Sporting believed that only professional players needed an ITC and that having registered the player before April 7th, they believed they had avoided any controversy.

The club’s statement reads: “Representatives of Sporting Ennistymon F.C interpreted this as most probably would and understood that Ukrainian refugee players could be signed without an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from Ukraine as it stated on FAInet that “no transfer rules applied” to residents from Ukraine.

“That’s the statement on the online registration platform. It turns out this is totally incorrect and still has not been acknowledged by the FAI.”

“The FAI’s ethical and moral values should be questioned if they believe it is correct to punish a club for offering Ukrainian refugees a sporting and social outlet.”

“The only refugee that wanted to register and play football here in Clare has been let down by poorly designed software, instructions that were available but not forwarded to the clubs, no documentation or direction from the FAI regarding refugees and most importantly, no guarantee of protection of their personal data.”

“The outcome of the protest lodged regarding the ITC sees our club deducted points, fined, and the club’s integrity has been diminished.

“This is a very high price to pay given the circumstances that, in the spirit of the game, we were giving this young man who left Ukraine under duress a game of competitive football. The club acted in good faith within the rules available to us at the time of registration.”

Crowe wants Sporting Ennistymon’s points to be reawarded to them. He believes that factors outside of the club’s control led to this situation.

“The standard registration form is not a form for registering refugees. There are extra requirements. We are looking for our points back as this is a classic case of fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

“Clubs were asked by the FAI to do what we can to help integrate refugees in to our community and this episode has left this young player devastated. It’s not his fault. As the new season for registering player is now open since June 1st, the FAI need to up their game and put the necessary correct processes in place.”

About Ivan Smyth

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