Thursday 27 October 2016

Eamon Dunphy: The FIFA payment to the FAI was like something from The Sopranos

Published 04/06/2015 | 22:20

William Gallas scores after Thierry Henry had handled the ball in 2009
William Gallas scores after Thierry Henry had handled the ball in 2009

Soccer pundit Eamon Dunphy has likened the FIFA payment to the FAI in 2009 as something similar to a scene from the hit TV show The Sopranos.

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In another day of FIFA revelations, the organisation confirmed that it provided the FAI with a $5m loan following the Thierry Henry handball debacle in 2009, which was written off when Ireland failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

FAI chief executive John Delaney today revealed that the Association received financial compensation from FIFA following the infamous handball in 2009. FIFA claims that lump sum was to be reimbursed if Ireland had qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and was to be used for the Aviva Stadium.

FIFA wrote the loan off in December 2014 after Ireland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil

Speaking on RTE's Prime Time tonight, Dunphy said he believes Delaney "chanced his arm", but as long as the money is accounted for, maintains it was a good deal for Ireland.

"I think it suggests it was a bit late to the Sopranos," he said. "Tony decides that this fella is annoying me, he is giving me grief. He reaches for the cheque book, signs the cheque. There's $5m, we'll make it a loan. If you don't qualify for the next World Cup, will you shut up?

"And John Delaney took it."

Dunphy is adamant that there was no legal basis for the FAI's complaint following the controversial night in Paris six years ago, but does want more answers on where the money went.

"Where is the money? Have the FAI accounted for it? They say they have.

"If John Delaney was chancing his arm, and I think he was, then I think most Irish people would say fair play to him provided the money went into Irish soccer.

"I think God loves a trier, I think Sepp likes a trier so I think they did well to get $5m for nothing and as long as it is accounted for, well done."

Delaney told RTE Radio's The Ray D'Arcy show earlier today how the payment came to pass.

"We felt we had a legal case against FIFA because of how the World Cup hadn't worked out for us with the Henry handball," he said.

"Also the way Blatter behaved if you remember on stage when he had a snigger and a laugh at us.

"That day when I went into him and told him how I felt about him, there were some expletives used, we came to an agreement."

Delaney says the agreement was a significant boost to the FAI.

"That [agreement] was on a Thursday and by Monday it was all signed. It's a very good agreement for the FAI, a very legitimate agreement for the FAI. In that agreement they put a confidentiality agreement that I can't talk about the amount involved. You [Ray D'Arcy] have used a figure there [€5m], but it was a very good, legitimate figure for the FAI.

"It was a payment to the Association not to proceed with a legal case.”

FIFA has followed this with a statement of their own, explaining that the loan was written off after Ireland failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"While the referee's decision is final [France v Ireland play-off 2009], and the FAI ultimately accepted it as such, in January 201 FIFA entered into an agreement with the FAI in order to put to an end any claims against FIFA," the statement read.

"FIFA granted FAI loan of $5m for the construction of a stadium in Ireland. At the same time, UEFA also granted the FAI funds for the same stadium.

"The terms granted between the FAI and FIFA were that the loan would be reimbursed if Ireland qualified for the 2014 World Cup. Ireland did not qualify. Because of this, and in view of the FAI's financial situation, FIFA, decided to write off the loan as per 31 December."

Tonight the FAI has released its own statement saying that the "legitimate" payment was put towards the Aviva Stadium and "fully reflected" in their financial statements.

"Further to FIFA's statement this evening in relation to the €5m settlement with the FAI, the Association can now confirm that a legal settlement agreement  was reached with FIFA  following the threat of a legal case by the Association against world governing body in early 2010," the statement read.

"The matter has been reported before in the media however the Association has, until now, abided by the confidentiality agreement required by FIFA as part of the settlement.

"The settlement was reached following strong legal advice given to the Association regarding the case against FIFA, and was a legitimate payment that enabled the Association to put €5m into the Aviva stadium project. This is fully reflected in our financial statements which are audited independently.

"The Association accepted FIFA's settlement offer to avoid a long, costly and protracted legal case. The offer given to the Association was fully written off by FIFA in 2014.

"FIFA's settlement with the Association has at no time influenced the FAI's criticism of FIFA as demonstrated by our consistent criticisms of Sepp Blatter. Furthermore the settlement was made without any conditions other than confidentiality."

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