Jim Boyce last night insisted that he won’t turn down his elevation to one of the most prestigious and powerful roles in world football.
The former Irish FA president claims that suggestions he is about to give up the Fifa vice-president position that he is due to take up next year is down to mischief making.
Boyce — who is now the honourary life president of the IFA — is set to be installed in the Fifa vice-president’s position next spring and he is adamant there will be no u-turn.
Boyce will step into the role when Geoff Thompson of England steps down after his four-year term, with the national associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales having a vice-presidential berth all to themselves.
There has been speculation that Boyce was about to walk away from any involvement with the world governing body in the wake of last week’s World Cup controversy, when Russia and Qatar were awarded the 2018 and 2022 finals tournaments respectively, while England’s bid for the 2018 tournament received just two votes from the 22-man Fifa Executive Committee — one of which came from Thompson.
“I don’t know where this has come from,” said Boyce, who left to undertake Uefa duty in Malta immediately after Sunday’s Cliftonville v Glentoran Co-operative Insurance Cup tie.
“I have never hinted to anyone that I was considering relinquishing my future role with Fifa and I have never thought about it.
“Someone is trying to make mischief.
“I’ve made it clear that the position of vice-president of Fifa will be a great honour for me personally, for my club, Cliftonville and for the Irish Football Association.
“It is not something that I would treat lightly.
“I am well aware how prestigious a role within world football it is and I look forward to serving Northern Ireland, the British associations and world football as a whole.
“There is no truth in this whatsoever, I am very annoyed about it and I do think there is someone trying to make mischief.”
Boyce has promised to make his presence felt at Fifa and anyone who knows Boyce will be well aware that he won’t simply be a silent member of Fifa’s Executive Committee when he steps up onto world football’s ruling body in six months time.
“I have been in football a long time and it would be a big honour, not necessarily for me but for the Irish FA,” said Boyce.
“And what I can say is that I will work diligently for all the British football associations and if I feel something needs to be said I will say it.”
One of Boyce’s predecessors at the IFA, Harry Cavan, was vice-president of Fifa for a decade, from 1980 to 1990 and served as president of the IFA for 36 years, from 1958 to 1994.
Over the last 16 years individuals from England, Scotland and Wales have all held the vice-president’s position, but nobody from Northern Ireland has been in the post since Cavan.
There have been a number of questions raised over the integrity of Fifa and the organisation’s Executive Committee since last week’s vote.
Boyce agrees that mistakes were made in the process to select the World Cup hosts and that they must be learned from in time for the next round of bidding.
“I also don't think they should ever have two World Cup bids on the same date again,” he said.