1880 (Northern) Ireland

The fourth oldest football association in the world is the Irish Football Association (IFA).  Formed in Belfast in 1880, the IFA was originally the governing body for the whole of Ireland.  The (Northern) Ireland team played its first international match in 1882, losing 13-0 to England in Belfast.

Things changed in 1921 when, after the partition of Ireland, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) was formed.  With the backdrop of the toxic political atmosphere of the time the two associations could not agree which one represented what and for a time both claimed to represent the whole of the island and to select players from both of the rival national leagues.

By 1950 things had calmed down a little and the two rival associations were selecting players only from the political entities in which they operated.  In qualifying for the 1954 World Cup we saw the names Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland for the first time.  Even this wasn't quite the end of the tale though, as Northern Ireland still used the name Ireland in the British Home Championship until the seventies.

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