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Georgia v Ireland tie to be played in neutral venue: FIFA

SoccerNews in World Cup 19 Aug 2008

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A 2010 World Cup qualifier between Georgia and the Republic of Ireland will take place at a neutral venue due to the unrest in the former Soviet state, world football governing body FIFA said Tuesday.

The match had been scheduled to take place in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on September 6.

“FIFA reached this decision after closely monitoring the situation in Georgia and taking note that UEFA also decided to ask Georgian clubs involved in UEFA competitions to play their matches in neutral countries.

“The Georgian Football Federation has until 26 August 2008 to nominate a neutral venue to host the qualifying match against the Republic of Ireland which will take place on the scheduled date of 6 September 2008,” FIFA added.

“The Georgian Football Federation will serve as the host association for this match.”

Speaking in Oslo ahead of Wednesday's friendly with Norway, Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane said he was happy with FIFA's decision.

“It was important that we did play the game no matter where it was. We have everything set out and the players were looking forward to the two games.

“They have made a decision on that now and I think it's important they have made that decision.

“At least we know we are playing that game and people are looking forward to that now,” the Liverpool striker added.

“But no matter where the game was, we would have gone and played it anywhere because it is important for the group and it is important to get the three points.”

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni will have to wait to learn where his team will play the game – with both Azerbaijan and Armenia rumoured to be possible venues, although there has been no official confirmation.

“For both teams, not only for us, the first game is very, very important,” the Italian said. “I am sad about the situation, but we cannot do anything about that.”

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