Wednesday 18 October 2017

James McClean and Martin O'Neill could be banned for World Cup qualifiers as investigation launched into ref comments

Shane Duffy's goal was disallowed against Austria and (inset) James McClean and Martin O'Neill
Shane Duffy's goal was disallowed against Austria and (inset) James McClean and Martin O'Neill
Shane Duffy of Republic of Ireland scores a goal which was subsequently disallowed

Harry Clarke

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and winger James McClean face the possibility of being banned for crucial World Cup qualifiers in September as FIFA open disciplinary proceedings following the 1-1 draw against Austria.

In the immediate aftermath of that game, when Shane Duffy had a late goal ruled out, McClean claimed that the Austrians had a "12th man".

In a statement released to the Times Ireland edition, a FIFA spokesperson said: "We can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened for such statements. Be informed that two cases were opened: one against James McClean and another one against the coach Martin O’Neill. Please understand that we can’t make any further comments since the matter is ongoing."

"Look, I know in this day and age, the slightest wee thing you say about a referee, you get fined and that," said McClean to RTE after the 1-1 draw at the Aviva. "But you watched the game, you tell me.

"They had a 12th man today. That’s all I’ll say on that. I’m really disappointed. We should have came away from that game with three points but we didn’t."

O'Neill also questioned the performance of the referee.

"I'm delighted to have got the equaliser and I thought that we had a legitimate, good goal disallowed. The referee wasn't totally to blame for our performance in the first half, but I thought he was very poor in the game," said O'Neill.

"Considering he was letting things go during the course of the game - that's fine, I like referees who let things go - but he seemed to be penalising us a great deal."

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Duffy's effort, which would have put the Republic seven points clear of Group D rivals Austria with just four games to play, was chalked off when the official ruled that defender Stefan Lainer had been fouled, and Borbalan was also unimpressed when Walters went to ground under Aleksandar Dragovic's challenge.

O'Neill added: "I'll tell you something now: there might have been a player called Andy Gray who wouldn't have scored a goal. They'd have to take almost 400 goals off him.

"When he (the referee) first pointed, I thought he'd obviously given it. The linesman is halfway up the pitch - he's closer to me than he is to the game. Once or twice, I was close to him as well.

"Listen, I can't change it. I thought it was a good goal and funnily enough, Jon Walters, it is a penalty, he's caught his foot."

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