Representatives of the FA, FAW and IFA have confirmed that they are seeking legal advice after UEFA announced that England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been ELIMINATED from the Euro 2016 tournament in France. According to a statement released this afternoon, the UK’s referendum decision to leave the European Union means that the governing body of European football is entitled to activate clause 201b of the UEFA Compliance Code. It states that a qualifying national team enters a major tournament under specific political conditions, and subsequently that any major change in political structure renders a qualification as void with immediate effect. Yugoslavia fell foul of the same rule when they were kicked out of Euro 1992.
UEFA spokesperson Jerome Robsonne said: ‘When England, Wales and Northern Ireland qualified for Euro 2016, they were all nations within the European Union, and as such we were able to grant them access to the tournament under a particular set of conditions – the most important of these was the seeding for the group draw that is applied exclusively to EU members. As the UK has now voted to leave, we are within our rights to revoke their qualification for the tournament as it has been applied under false pretences, and this will come into effect immediately to maintain the integrity of UEFA.’
In a late development, it has now emerged that Northern Ireland may be given a route back into the tournament. A source within UEFA has confirmed that the IFA could appeal the decision if assurances are given that a referendum will be called in the country to vote on a merger with the Irish Republic – this would be considered as a ‘serious and binding gesture’ towards remaining within the European Union.
We contacted both the FAW and the FA for a response. While both organisations were unwilling to discuss what they described as ‘an ongoing legal situation,’ representatives confirmed informally that there is a 30-day appeals window relating to their elimination from the tournament.