Friday 30 September 2016

ALERT: FAI hits Peak Eejitry

Once we heard suggestions that Ireland could be the 33rd of 32 qualifiers, or of legal action, we should have acted. We didn't and look what followed

Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30

'In truth, the moment when Blatter laughed at Paddy being the 33rd of the 32 qualifiers for the World Cup, was probably the one moment of principle in that man’s long and ludicrous career'
'In truth, the moment when Blatter laughed at Paddy being the 33rd of the 32 qualifiers for the World Cup, was probably the one moment of principle in that man’s long and ludicrous career'

Time was when FAI officials had nicknames like Big Dinners and Little Dinners, but last week, they laid on a banquet.

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A caller to Liveline remembered Sepp Batter laughing at us like we were a third-rate country. Which had many listeners shouting at the radio that that is an outrageous slander, when we have done so much to demonstrate that we are, in fact, a second-rate country.

In truth, the moment when Blatter laughed at Paddy being the 33rd of the 32 qualifiers for the World Cup, was probably the one moment of principle in that man's long and ludicrous career. He was making a stand that day, against this thing we call 'eejitry'.

He faced it down, indeed, he mocked it. And if only we had done the same thing, we might be in a far better place today. When the first voice was heard suggesting that Paddy might have some redress for the Henry handball, that some special dispensation might be arranged to reflect the scale of the monstrosity - even, dear God, that legal action might be considered - that was the moment to go in hard.

Back then, if Joe Duffy had interrupted the first person who suggested we could still get into the World Cup, if he had just said, "I'll have to stop you there, caller, because you are a most unmerciful eejit"... maybe it would never have come to this.

We would never have had lawyers drawing up documents to solemnise all that foolishness, we would never have heard about the "reputational damage" inflicted on the Irish and their football representatives by Blatter - I think it was I who described the FAI as "the dysfunctional body that other dysfunctional bodies call the Galacticos", and I don't recall getting many objections at the time.

Reputational damage? We should have jumped on that one too, early doors. We should not have hesitated.

But it got away from us, as it so often does, until eventually, last week, our FAI chief executive was appearing in headlines worldwide, not five million miles away from names such as Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner - men who had done many unsavoury things to get there, while our man just arrived as if borne by a force of nature, of the kind we know only too well.

Then, our Taoiseach suddenly emerged from wherever he's been for a week, talking about "soccer", and thinking out loud about whether some other fellow's position is tenable, which, disturbingly, was not unlike the way that John Delaney had started his week - the less he is seen, the more tenable Mr Kenny's own position seems to become.

But then we have no standards, as such, to guide us in our affairs.

In England recently, an MP who posted a picture of a house draped in St George flags with a white van parked outside, realised that her attitude might be construed as snobbish, and resigned as Shadow Attorney-General. For a moment of indiscretion she walked.

We don't understand that stuff, we don't do it. We just know this fever that stirs within us, and we know that with last week's performance, we may well have reached Peak Eejitry.

Sunday Independent

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