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Irish FA President David Martin confirmed as candidate to become next FIFA Vice-President

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Irish FA president David Martin

Irish FA president David Martin

Irish FA president David Martin

Irish FA president David Martin is one of three official candidates that have been put forward to become FIFA's new vice-president.

The role became vacant in November, when England's Greg Clarke resigned over his use of "unacceptable" language while referring to black players as he gave evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The Englishman defeated Martin by 37 votes to 18 in a two-man contest for the £190,000-a-year role in 2019, but now that the position has reopened, Martin's name is once again in the frame.

His opponents this time are Scottish FA vice-president Michael Mulraney and Football Association of Wales president Kieran O'Connor.

The vote will be held at the UEFA Congress in Montreux on April 20.

FIFA has eight Vice-President positions and one is traditionally reserved for a member of the Home Nations. If Martin is voted in, he would be office for two years.

Back in November, when it first emerged that Martin would be put forward for the role, a source told the Sunday Life that he had 'gained support' during the 2019 vote.

"There are those who believe it should be his turn to receive the nomination," the source said.

If he lands the role, Martin would join Harry Cavan and Jim Boyce in a select band of Irish FA officials to serve as Fifa vice-presidents.

It's a continuation of a dramatic comeback for a man removed from his position in the IFA in 2010 by then Sports Minister Nelson McCausland, who deemed the organisation not fit for purpose.

Martin, then the IFA treasurer, and president Raymond Kennedy had to leave the association with McCausland making it clear it would not be handed any of the £26m for the redevelopment of Windsor Park while the pair were in office.

They had been strongly criticised in an independent report into the departure of chief executive Howard Wells, who took an unfair dismissal case that cost the IFA £500,000.

After leaving, Martin made known his determination to return to the IFA, but failed three competency tests carried out by independent commissions, as requested by government when anyone wished to become an office bearer in the association.

At an IFA AGM in 2013 in Enniskillen, however, the criteria was changed when a motion was passed that it was not a requirement to complete a competency test to become an office bearer.

At that time, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure issued a statement declaring that the IFA's removal of the suitability test was a retrograde step which could breach the £26m funding agreement for Windsor Park. As it turned out the public funding was not affected and the money was made available.

At a World Cup qualifier against Russia at Windsor Park in August 2013, Northern Ireland fans protested with banners at the prospect of Mr Martin becoming IFA deputy president, claiming he was not suitable for such a prominent role in the governing body of Northern Ireland football.

Despite their concern, Martin was elected deputy president on the back of a unanimous vote at a meeting of the IFA Council and became president in 2016.

When asked at the time, if he supported the candidacy of Martin for the IFA presidency, Patrick Nelson said: "I support the candidacy of whoever comes forward. We're a democratic organisation. David is a highly respected member of our organisation, our first deputy president. I respect him.

Under Martin's watch, the new-look Windsor Park has opened up, the association successfully staged the Women's European Under-17 finals and the Irish FA have been named host of this year's prestigious UEFA Super Cup, played between the winners of the Champions League and Europa League.

Sunday Life


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