After Northern Ireland lost 2-1 in the Euro 2008 qualifying match, a fight broke out between two players of the Northern Irish team on the flight home.
Keith Gillespie, who scored an own goal in the last minute of the game against Iceland, and George McCartney allegedly fought whilst their plane from Iceland to London was still on the runway. Cabin crew staff reported the fight to Nigel Worthington, the team manager.
The President and Chief Executive of the Irish Football Association (IFA) said that the group was aware of the incident and would investigate. If further action was required, a statement from the IFA said that they would not hesitate to pursue the matter further.
On Friday, Gillespie apologised for his role in the fight, admitting that his conduct was unacceptable.
On Ulster Television, Gillespie admitted, “It was an unsavoury incident. Certainly it won’t be happening, as far as I am concerned, again. I apologise to the management, staff and the fans because it is something that shouldn’t have happened. Unfortunately it did. Hopefully we can put this to bed and get on with playing football.”
He explained, “It was really just a misunderstanding over a lost passport. George and I had words and there was a coming together but the whole incident was finished within two to three seconds. I’ve texted George and have told him no hard feelings.”
Chief of the IFA Raymond Kennedy told the press, “I will not be shirking my responsibilities when something like this happens. You don’t expect something like this to happen at any level of football, never mind after an international.”