FAI demands Slovaks host Irish in Bratislava

THE Football Association of Ireland are awaiting responses from letters they have written to both UEFA and the Slovakian Football Association (SFZ) demanding that Bratislava be instated as the venue for Ireland’s European Championship qualifier on October 12.

The FAI action follows the announcement yesterday that the Slovaks want to switch the game to Zilina, 125 miles from the capital.

National associations have up until six weeks before a fixture to nominate the venue for the game, so the Slovakians are well within that timeframe, but the FAI are pinning their hopes on the fact that, as recently as July 28, the SFZ formally notified their counterparts in Dublin that the game would be played in Bratislava.

The capital’s Tehelne Pole stadium – scene of Stephen Ireland’s last appearance for his country three years ago – is undergoing renovation, as a result of which Slovakia played out a 1-1 friendly draw with Croatia last Wednesday at Bratislava’s other main ground, the Pasiensky Stadium. The previous week, a Europa League match at the same venue was interrupted by a floodlight failure.

However, for the Euro qualifier against Ireland, they now want to switch the game to the Stadion Pod Dubnom in Zilina, a 12,000 capacity ground which has hosted the national team in the past, and the FAI are angry about the inevitable complications this will cause for Irish supporters who have already made arrangements to travel to the capital.

In a statement yesterday, the FAI said that it had “replied to the SFZ and UEFA on behalf of the Irish fans who have already made travel arrangements for the European Championship qualifier, asking them to maintain their original and formally notified statement that they would play the game in Bratislava”.

Meanwhile, there was no official update yesterday on manager Giovanni Trapattoni’s condition following minor stomach surgery on Wednesday but sources said that, while he continues to recover well, no date has yet been confirmed for his discharge from hospital.

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