Belfast Telegraph

Dail will not quiz FAI chief over €5m Fifa pay-off

By Ed Carty

Irish politicians have decided not to grill the country's football chief about the €5 million pay-off from Fifa for a Thierry Henry handball that cost the Republic a place in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

John Delaney, the Football Association of Ireland chief executive, last week revealed the money was arranged by Sepp Blatter after the team controversially lost a play-off against France in 2009.

It was classed as a loan and used to pay off debts for the redevelopment of the old Lansdowne Road into the Aviva stadium.

Mr Delaney was facing the prospect of a potentially tricky Q&A in front of a parliamentary committee over his handling of the secret deal, even though the FAI is not regulated by the Dublin Government.

But, following a private meeting in Leinster House yesterday, a spokeswoman confirmed: "The committee have opted not to ask the FAI to appear."

Mr Delaney has not answered any questions publicly since the revelation but the FAI issued a lengthy statement outlining the chronology of the Fifa pay-off and where it was recorded in its accounts.

He disclosed last week that the €5m (£3.6m) was secured from Fifa after a heated exchange with Mr Blatter in his office.

Mr Delaney claimed the money was paid to stave off a threatened lawsuit against Fifa after officials missed the double handball by Henry to set up a goal for William Gallas.

Such a courtroom claim would have been unprecedented in soccer history.

The terms were originally confidential, the FAI has said.

But the money was also due to be repaid if the Republic qualified for last year's World Cup.

Belfast Telegraph


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