As IFAB rolls into town it offers the host association a chance to charm their illustrious guests with local hospitality, so how will Arsene Wenger and co be spending their time in Belfast when not debating VAR or interpretations of the offside law?
You will not be surprised to learn that football is involved so the attendees including Wenger, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Greg Clarke of the FA and former referee Pierluigi Collina have been invited to the Irish Cup quarter-final tie between Glentoran and Crusaders on Saturday afternoon.
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The Oval is a venue of character and history in the east of the city, a place that was damaged badly during World War Two. A stone’s throw away are the Harland and Wolff shipyards, where the father of Wenger’s great rival Sir Alex Ferguson spent time working.
Bringing the famous double-zipped long coat out of retirement would be a wise move at a ground where the wind chill hits you from all sides!
During the visit guests will dine at and take a tour of Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland’s residence for visiting members of the Royal Family. It is also a base for the Secretary of State and has hosted American presidents.
The lawmakers will sample Bushmills Irish whiskey from the oldest distillery in the world and there are also plans in place to take a tour of the Titanic Museum at the heart of the Titanic Quarter area of the city.
The IFAB party itself will base themselves on the outskirts of the city near Holywood, where the world’s No 1 golfer Rory McIlroy grew up. They will stay in Northern Ireland’s first five-star hotel, The Culloden, as they hold discussions that help shape the future of the game.
They may encounter regular visitor Van Morrison at a venue that hosted the England team during their last competitive visit to Belfast along with a host of well-known faces from the world of sport, music, film and politics.
The meeting goes ahead despite ongoing sporting concerns around the coronavirus outbreak. The crisis was discussed in IFA corridors this week ahead of hosting some of the most travelled individuals in football but the decision was taken to press ahead.
While the IFA is proud to host the game’s most influential administrators it comes at a time staff are in mourning for their much loved Football Operations Manager Craig Stanfield, who passed away suddenly last weekend at the age of 50.
At the meeting this weekend senior IFA figures plan to pay tribute to a man who joined the association 30 years ago and became the match manager for international fixtures at the national stadium at Windsor Park.
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