Fernando Hierro today joined the ranks of Monique and Zbigniew Boniek as he handed the Republic of Ireland a relatively easy draw for the World Cup playoffs. If the aim was to swerve The Big Two, with whom we are sadly well acquainted with from those dreary Euro 2012 days, then it was a case of job well done, Fernando.
Northern Ireland also managed to avoid Italy and Croatia and will face Switzerland for a place at the finals in Russia next June. While Michael O'Neill declared him relatively satisfied with the draw, one aspect of the process did cause a bit of controversy.
FIFA's graphics department decided to display each nation's flag along with the name of that country in their native tongue.
For Northern Ireland, however, FIFA took the decision to write the Irish version, Tuaisceart Éireann.
Among those riled by this was Jamie Bryson, who describes himself as a Unionist Activist. For those unaware of Bryson, he is perhaps most famous for accompanying an Abu Hamza-clad Willie Frazer to a court appearance and
skipping lunch going on a six-hour hunger strike while in custody during the 2013 flag protests. (It ended when he asked a police officer to order him an Indian takeaway).
Bryson tweeted his annoyance at the use of a "foreign language":
FIFA seem to be confused. Unsure why they would put a foreign language on the screen beside Northern Ireland. pic.twitter.com/16rzbmfV0n
— Jamie Bryson (@JamieBrysonCPNI) October 17, 2017
With the Irish Language Act among the issues causing stalemate at Stormont at the moment, these kinds of responses were myriad:
Fair play to Fifa. Doing their bit for the Irish language act https://t.co/U3JorkYvm8
— Damian Stack (@damianstack) October 17, 2017
— Joe Ó Muircheartaigh (@muirioch) October 17, 2017
— David Dougan (@DaveDougan) October 17, 2017
It is a decision by FIFA not in keeping with one made by their social media people on the same day:
— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) October 17, 2017