Scotland cerebral palsy team's 'shock' at World Championships withdrawal

Jonny Paterson
Jonny Paterson says "it's a shame" his team-mates "are left with nothing at the moment"

The captain of Scotland's cerebral palsy team says they are in "utter shock" at being withdrawn from the World Championships in Argentina.

The Scottish FA's decision came after a rule change from the International Federation for Cerebral Palsy Football.

UK passport holders can now choose which home nation to represent and the SFA fear it could set a precedent for all levels of the international game.

"It's really disappointing," said Scotland skipper Jonny Paterson.

"Especially because it's midway through our training cycle and we're just starting to up the ante to get into our top condition to get to the World Championships."

Stewart Regan
Regan insists the SFA had "no option other than to withdraw"

SFA chief executive Stuart Regan said: "Despite our appeals, the IFCPF has chosen to enforce this rule change, which we believe would have a detrimental effect on Scotland's status as an independent football nation.

"The new rule leaves us with no option other than to withdraw from all IFCPF competitions, including the World Championships, with immediate effect."

And Disability Sport Scotland believe the IFCPF policy may be changed.

The Scots finished ninth at the last World Championships in Canada in 2015 and Paterson was selected for the Great Britain squad at the 2016 Paralympics but did not play.

And it has been reported David Porcher, who previously represented Scotland and Team GB, has elected to play for England.

"We're desperate to go and prove people wrong, especially being people who grew up with disabilities and that's all we've ever wanted to do and that choice has now been taken away from us," Paterson told BBC Scotland.

"I know there's been a lot of politics involved with Team Great Britain when we got involved with the Paralympics. It's caused a lot of trouble between the SFA and Scottish Disability Sport. I just concentrate on the football side of it and that's all we ever want to do. The politics in sport have overtaken that and it's now interrupted the sport and it shouldn't do that.

"Everybody is just in utter shock. Most people don't do anything outwith the team, so that's all they've got to look forward to and that's why they train.

Jonny Paterson
Paterson with some of his playing kits

"I don't think we should be disadvantaged because of this rule. We got over the disappointment of losing David to go to England.

"We put that to one side and we just focused on everybody that is there and who's willing to commit to the programme and it's a shame that the boys are left with nothing at the moment.

"The SFA have been great over the years for us, they've given us the kit, we've travelled the world, we're treated professionally but this just feels like we're treated like second class citizens because it would not happen [with] the first team, it wouldn't happen, even the under-21s.

"I look at the women's squad, they've been funded full-time to go to the European Championships and they fully deserve it but we've never had that support.

"Can we go further? Can we kick on? Can we get better? That's something that's been really disappointing for me because I can see us getting to that level, but we need everything else in the pipeline to make it work."

Gavin Macleod, of Scottish Disability Sport, shares Paterson's disappointment that Scotland will not, as things stand, feature at the World Championships but believes the IFCPF may change their stance.

"We're already in dialogue with the International Federation," said Macleod. "They are showing a willingness to address the policy and to look at it from a UK perspective and to protect the interests of the home nations, including Scotland so we have had a positive response.

"Early days, hopefully that will go in the correct direction.

"It's definitely not the end for the [Scotland] cerebral palsy football team. We're already making arrangements to ensure that they continue with their regular training sessions, the coaches are on board.

"We're working with the International Federation to try and ensure that we can get them back on the international calendar as soon as possible."

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