have your say
Published 14/03/2010 | 05:00
Fans out of pocket over friendly farce
At a time when people are resigning left, right and centre, I have never seen so many different bodies deny responsibility for the fiasco of Ireland playing a 'home friendly' with Brazil in London. Surely between them the FAI, the GAA, Minister for Sport Martin Cullen and Kentaro could have made this happen at Croke Park?
Meanwhile, this magnificent stadium lies idle whilst Irish fans have to make the trek to the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal (hardly afloat with Irish players in recent years). Assuming a crowd of 60,000 at €50 a ticket, this fixture would have generated over €3m in revenue, given a rental figure of perhaps €650,000 (as it's a friendly as opposed to €1.3m charged for World Cup qualifiers) so the FAI would have done far better than the rumoured €350,000 purse for playing in England. Also it has been estimated that this match, if played in Ireland, would have generated about €5m to our economy.
I can see Kentaro's point of getting the optimum deal for them; after all, they are a business. Whereas I have not been aware of any great efforts on behalf of the FAI or the GAA to make this happen. Judging from newspaper reports our honourable Sports Minister maintains that it has nothing to do with him. Let me see now, a possible €5m boost to the economy, great excitement with the visit of five-time World Cup winners Brazil and the fact that Irish fans could spend their money here as opposed to travelling to England
. . . why would that have anything to do with the Minister for Sport?
Eamonn, the FAI are doing their bit
Last Sunday in his 'Hold The Back Page' column, Eamonn Sweeney introduced an interesting phrase called 'practical patriotism' and used it to slam the FAI for not finding a big game to help out the hard-pressed business people of Dublin.
He conveniently forgot that the FAI is injecting €70m into the Irish economy through its involvement in the €400m Aviva Stadium, one of the biggest construction projects in the state over the past three years.
It slipped his mind that the FAI won the bid to host the 2011 Europa League final which will take place in Dublin in May of next year and generate between €30m and €100m for the local economy, not to mention the delivery of a worldwide TV audience in excess of 300m viewers. He also failed to mention that the FAI have already announced that World Cup finalists Paraguay and Algeria will visit in May and Argentina will be here in August for the opening game in the new Aviva Stadium.
I realise Eamonn Sweeney was voicing his opinion about Ireland playing Brazil in London and is entitled to do so but it is not fair to suggest that the FAI aren't engaged in 'practical patriotism'.
Immutable law of Irish begrudgery
So Eamonn Sweeney reckons one of the immutable laws of Irish life is that there ia nothing so badly run that the FAI wouldn't make a worse job of it.
One doesn't except that sort of sweeping statement from a journalist who is supposed to be knowledgeable about the subjects he writes on. Go to any league or club across the country and they will tell you how much the FAI has improved since John Delaney took over as CEO five years ago.
UEFA raised quite a few eyebrows around Europe when they broke with the habit and awarded a European club final to a half-built stadium. To do that, they had to have complete faith in the host association to ensure the stadium was built on time. If an outside body like UEFA have faith in the FAI's ability to do the job, then surely Eamonn Sweeney's immutable law of Irish life is nothing more than good old Irish begrudgery.
Imports passed the ancestry test
When Bernie Slaven, Middlesbrough's Paisley-born striker, became one of the non-native players to be called into Jack Charlton's Squad for the Republic of Ireland, the inevitable jokes were made.
Probably the least original is that FAI stands for Find Another Irishman. Considering many of the English people making the jokes were happy to cheer England's cricketers when their teams included West Indians, South Africans and Dominicans just as Ireland's side comprises players from England, Scotland and Wales, it smacked of hypocrisy.
It is a popular misconception that Ireland bend FIFA's eligibility rules -- in fact, qualification has nothing to do with FIFA. Players with Irish passports can represent the Republic and a passport is granted if the Irish government is satisfied with the ancestry.