Glasgow Rangers and Steven Gerrard are extremely unhappy with the Irish Football Association for invoking a rarely used FIFA rule against them regarding striker Kyle Lafferty.
Lafferty phoned O’Neil to let him know he wouldn’t be travelling to face either Austria or Bosnia and Herzegovina in their UEFA Nations league double-header because of his on-going Achilles injury, which was bothering him.
The regulation states that a player cannot feature for his club until five days after an international break, therefore ruling that 32-year-old Lafferty must sit out of Rangers Sunday afternoon trip to face Hamilton in the televised match at New Douglas Park.
This law has to be requested by the aggrieved international team (IFA), and FIFA will then back them up and inform the club involved (in this case Rangers) regarding this ruling.
Rangers are shocked that Michael O’Neil the Northern Ireland manager has gone to such petty lengths to inconvenience his own Irish international player, who he seems to deem so important to his long-term Irish plans.
This impractical move has only annoyed the player and Rangers who pay his wages and has caused an unnecessary conflict between all three parties.
It’s not very often that you see this type of thing happen, but O’Neil has decided to activate the FIFA rule. It’s extremely rare that a player declines an international call-up and then gets banned for it.
It looks like Lafferty’s only option could be to retire from international football and concentrate the rest of his playing career with Rangers.
The IFA deserve the consequences if Lafferty retires from playing for them ever again.
Some Rangers supporters have suggested that some of the catholic members of the IFA are behind this petty move against Rangers – and they could be right!