Thursday 19 September 2019

FIFA probe puts Brady at risk for play-offs

Governing body 'collating evidence' on clash with Williams which could lead to suspension

Ireland’s Robbie Brady. Photo: REUTERS
Ireland’s Robbie Brady. Photo: REUTERS
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill is facing an anxious wait to find out if Robbie Brady will be sanctioned for a clash with Ashley Williams in Ireland's win over Wales on Monday.

FIFA have confirmed they are collating evidence about an incident in the second half of the crucial victory that put O'Neill's charges into next month's play-offs.

Williams pushed Brady to the ground after a coming-together and when the Dubliner got to his feet and jogged back up the pitch after the Wales defender, he nudged his head towards his opponent's back

There was no response from Williams and the referee's eyes were on the ball at that moment but Brady's reaction was caught on camera.

FIFA are looking into the incident and will have judge if the Burnley player's action could be deemed as a headbutt - that would come under the heading of violent conduct and result in a ban that would rule a key performer out of the play-offs.

The FAI have refused to comment on the matter and it's understood they have not been informed of any charge.

There is quiet confidence in the camp that Brady will escape punishment and the view that it was an innocuous incident was backed up in the immediate aftermath by ex-Wales striker Craig Bellamy.

"They (FIFA) might have to justify their jobs when they get called in to look at these things but does he deserve a suspension for that? No chance," said Bellamy.

Brady has already served two suspensions in this campaign after picking up four yellow cards. He sat out the scoreless draw with Wales in March and last Friday's win over Moldova.

Ireland will be without David Meyler for the first leg of the play-off after he was booked in the dying stages in Cardiff. O'Neill is already coping without long-term absentees Seamus Coleman and Jon Walters.

Unseeded Ireland will find out who stands in their way next Tuesday. Portugal's win over Switzerland last night condemned the latter to a place in the draw despite winning their first nine games in their group.

The Swiss lost out on goal difference and join Italy, Croatia and Denmark as Ireland's possible opponents. There will also be a draw to determine if they are home or away first. In 2009, Ireland had to play their second leg away to France as FIFA gave the seeded side home advantage in the second leg but that particular rule no longer exists.

The games are spread out across a week for TV deal purposes with November 9-11 the first leg window and the second leg down for November 12-14. Ireland have a rugby international with South Africa on November 11 so O'Neill's men will play on November 9 or November 10 if drawn at home first.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport