Sport Soccer

Monday 25 September 2017

FAI tight-lipped over rematch with World and European champions

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

IRELAND could be set for a summer showdown with Spain, one year on from the Euro 2012 drubbing in Gdansk.

The Spanish have emerged as possible opponents for a summer tour to the east coast of America, which is scheduled for the week after the World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands on June 7.

It will mean a marathon stint for the players who meet up on May 26 ahead of the Wembley friendly with England three days later. Ireland last visited the United States in 2007 during Steve Staunton's tenure and he ended up bringing what was effectively a development squad.

However, the trip would offer commercial value to the FAI, and high-profile opposition would make it more attractive to players. Ireland will play two games on the trip.

The FAI have remained tight-lipped on the identity of the other teams, saying that they are waiting for the all-clear from the organisers. "We have got one planned, the opposition is lined up, and once the organiser gives us the okay, we'll make an announcement," said an FAI spokesman.

Spain are involved in the Confederations Cup in Brazil, and kick off their campaign against Uruguay on June 16. Mexico, who have also been floated as opposition, are also in the Confederations Cup and playing a game on that date.

FAI CEO John Delaney revealed that a Stateside trip was on the agenda in the course of a fly-on-the-wall Sky Sports News feature with the Waterford man which continues today. He also defended his €360,000 a year salary, again insisting that he has turned down far more lucrative jobs during his tenure.

"I was offered a job three times the salary I'm on and that's a fact," he said. "I didn't take the job, I didn't want the job – I'm very happy in this job."

Delaney (above) also defended the FAI's policy of taking players who have represented Northern Ireland at underage level before changing allegiance.

"It comes down to the players' choice," he said. "James McClean and Darron Gibson from Derry, they want to play for the Republic of Ireland, that's what they want to do."

Delaney added that he would one day like to see a united Ireland team, but believes it's unlikely it could ever happen.

Irish Independent

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