Republic of Ireland women's team could go on strike in row over treatment by FAI

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Republic of Ireland women's football team threaten strike over FAI treatment

The Republic of Ireland women's football team have threatened to go on strike in a row over treatment by the Football Association of Ireland.

Their game against Slovakia on Monday is now in doubt.

"We have been getting changed in public toilets on the way to matches," said Republic forward Aine O'Gorman.

Players representative Stuart Gilhooly said that they were being treated as "fifth-class citizens, the dirt on the FAI's shoe".

The Professional Footballers' Association Of Ireland solicitor accompanied women's team members at Tuesday's news conference.

"There is a possibility that the game against Slovakia will not go ahead. The last thing the women's international team want is to not play a game," added the PFAI official.

The players have indicated that they will refuse to train on Wednesday unless the FAI holds talks with their representatives at the PFAI and as of 17:00 BST on Tuesday evening, this had not happened.

The players are fighting for compensation from the FAI for lost earnings while on international duty and improved resources.

"What we want is for the FAI to empower and enable our players to commit to training camps and international games without having to worry about taking unpaid leave from work or being forced to use up all of their holidays," said captain Emma Byrne.

The women have grievances over a series of issues, including a demand for match fees of 300 Euros, bonuses of 150 Euros for a win and 75 Euros for a draw, gym membership for the squad and the provision of team clothing.

Stephanie Roche, Aine O'Gorman and Emma Byrne (front row) with members of the Republic of Ireland women's squad
There was a large turnout of players at Tuesday's news conference in Dublin

Twelve members of squad attend news conference

O'Gorman was joined by 12 other members of the Irish squad - including Stephanie Roche and captain Emma Byrne - at a news conference publicising their grievances on Tuesday.

The players also alleged that it was commonplace for the team to have to share tracksuits with the country's youth women's squads.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Byrne, who has played 127 times for her country, said that the team had "given up" trying to deal directly with the FAI.

"We are willing to do whatever it takes at this stage," she added.

"We are fighting for the future of women's international football. This isn't just about us.

"I know players who have had to stop playing. They made the decision they couldn't play any more."

O'Gorman said that the FAI had warned the players that going public with their grievances could "endanger their careers at club and international level".

FAI 'deeply disappointed' by players' stance

In response, an FAI statement said the governing body was "deeply disappointed that members of the team have threatened to withdraw from playing for their country".

"The ultimatum by the players concerned comes in spite of repeated invitations from the FAI to the players to discuss clear and tangible financial offers for the payment and compensation of members of the squad," said the statement.

"On five occasions in recent months the FAI has attempted to bring the players to the table, only to have the offer rebuked at every turn."

The FAI added the players had opted to stage Tuesday's news conference despite the governing body's decision to agree to a mediation process.

"The senior women's national team are provided the standards of care expected of a demanding high-performance environment, with top-level training facilities, hotel accommodation, dietary, fitness, performance analysis and medical and physio care.

"The team has also received significant increases in budget in recent years to attain this high standard, as well as the appointment of a Champions League winning coach."

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