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Sports in Ireland - A Cultural Phenomenon


Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Football

The game of soccer is the most popular sport throughout the world. In Ireland, although it is not native to Irish soil, things are no different. It is referred to as "soccer" so as not to be confused with Gaelic football, one of Ireland's national pastimes.


Soccer, much as it is with many of the sports played in Ireland, was brought over from England. However, for many years it was confined to Dublin and a few provincial towns. At this stage in its development, the game was commonly referred to as the "garrison game," largely because most teams were comprised of soldiers from the British army (Soccer in Ireland). Although it continued to develop, the game was officially banned by the Gaelic Athletic Association because it was a 'foreign' game. However, once that ban was lifted in 1971, soccer gained in its importance as its popularity skyrocketed around the globe (GAA). Despite low match attendance at league games, the sport continued to gain in popularity over the next few years before finally exploding when English coach Jack Charlton convinced a number of British players, who had Irish roots, which they would get more exposure and World Cup play if they went and played for the Irish team. Even though most of these players had never set foot on Irish soil, the team swept into the World Cup finals and, although they lost, set the cornerstone for soccer's continued place in the culture of Ireland (Move to Ireland).


Since then, Ireland has qualified for three World Cups but, still to this day, has never won a major tournament on the international scale. In Ireland, soccer is played at all levels and is governed by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), a largely amateur association.

Cultural Importance

In Ireland, soccer has gained its cultural significance largely because of its importance on an international scale. Unlike sports like hurling or Gaelic football, soccer is not mainly confined to Ireland. Soccer, in many aspects, is the universal sport on this planet. It is a sport that can be found in every part of the world where there is human life, and playing the game is more about national pride then anything else. Soccer, on its grandest scale, gives Ireland an identity that no other sport can. It is because of this uniqueness that separates soccer from any other sport played throughout the world.


FAI. The Football Association of Ireland. 25 Jan. 2007.

Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). GAA. 2006. 10 Nov. 2006

Move to Ireland. 1996. Sports in Ireland. 7 Nov. 2006.

Soccer in Ireland. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2006. Wikipedia. 25 Jan. 2007.

"Sports do not build character. They reveal it."

John Wooden (American, b.1910)