Scottish and Everton footballer Steven Naismith has defended his Evertonian colleagues James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady in their decision to represent the Republic of Ireland, but admits he thinks that FIFA eligibility rules, specifically the "granny rule" needs to be tightened up.
Naismith acknowledges the hypocrisy of criticising Ireland for choosing players that are eligible for the national squad through this rule given that they are far from the only nation in the world to do it. Gordon Strachan's Scotland squad has a number of players that were born south of the border, and Naismith is the first to acknowledge the benefits that these players have had for the Scottish side. Naismith says
Everybody does it and that’s the rule. It has improved our team so we are happy for it, to be honest. Me, personally, I think there should be a cut off... If you have grown up in a county then you should have a chance to play for them if you feel you can.
Naismith himself could have been eligible for both England and Wales through familial links, but his personally view, while he acknowledges that he is only one person, is that the rule should be "tightened up".
Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s circumstances are different. If there’s a chance of an international career and maybe going to a major tournament, would you give that up just because you weren’t born in that country? Everybody is different and everybody’s circumstances are different. I was fortunate in that I played with Scotland from when I was 17 so there was no doubt about it. I knew if I did well with my club then everything would progress and I have done.
Martin O'Neill has responded to Naismith's opinions:
The plot thickens. pic.twitter.com/vZQ8IOMNc4
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) November 13, 2014