Saturday 10 December 2016

Giovanni Trapattoni claims Sepp Blatter offered him 'a way to forget' Thierry Henry handball

Published 06/06/2015 | 12:52

Giovanni Trapattoni
Giovanni Trapattoni

Giovanni Trapattoni has made an extraordinary claim about FIFA president Sepp Blatter arising from the incident that robbed his side of a place at the 2010 World Cup.

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Giovanni Trapattoni, the Republic of Ireland manager at the time of the Thierry Henry scandal, has claimed in Italian media that Blatter spoke to him directly in the aftermath of the match in Paris and offered him "a way to forget" what had happened.

Trapattoni told La Stampa: "Blatter said 'meet me, we can find together a way out, a way to forget'.

"I do not know what he wanted. I just know that when he gave me his hand, I did not give mine because I do not have two faces."

The FAI last night has published a copy of a confidentiality agreement it reached with world governing body FIFA after it had confronted president Sepp Blatter over Ireland's World Cup play-off exit in 2009. The Irish lost out to France to a goal scored after Thierry Henry had clearly handled the ball in the build-up.

The document states: "On or before January 15, 2010, FIFA and FAI have entered into a loan agreement over 5million euros as an inducement for the FAI to enter into this agreement. Further, the FAI will receive an additional Goal Project in the amount of 400,000 US dollars than the one executed in 2009."

Last night the FAI released the timeline of events which led to it receiving the payment from FIFA.

Responding to calls for further details from Ireland's Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the FAI posted a comprehensive blow-by-blow account on its website.

FAI chief John Delaney brought the issue to public attention when he said his organisation was given the sum and the fall-out spilled over into a high-level summit of Ireland's cross-border peace-building North South Ministerial Council in Dublin, where leaders called on the Irish football executive to shed light on the transaction.

Kenny described the payment as "quite extraordinary" and called on Delaney to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding it.

He said: "This is quite extraordinary. But I would say that any questions that need to be answered here in the interests of transparency and accountability... John Delaney should answer and will answer all of those questions, I'm quite sure."

Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews, who featured in the 2009 match against France, says it was wrong of the FAI to accept the cash.

"Disbelief and disgust, they would be two words that popped into my head the last few days as it was coming out," he told the Newstalk radio station.

"As a country as a whole, we were able to hold our heads high with great dignity - that was the one comfort we all had and now that's been taken away from us. That's very sad.

"If you were to ask me personally if I would take a penny? Absolutely not. Do I blame them for trying to do something about the injustice we suffered? No, but to take money off them was wrong.

"It doesn't sit well. Even if we had known about the whole affair, it wouldn't have sat well. There was a huge financial loss (for the FAI), but there was a lack of transparency.

"It wasn't a loan - it was hush money to get rid of John Delaney, the FAI and anyone saying anything negative about FIFA."

The FAI said that after Blatter made public its suggestion it should be a 33rd representative at the World Cup, he "personally apologised" at a second meeting between the FAI and FIFA on January 12, 2010.

It then added: "After negotiation, FIFA offered the FAI a 5m euro interest-free loan by way of compensation as well as a 400,000 US dollar Goal Project grant that was used for FAI Regional Football Centres."

The FAI added that the money was paid into its account on January 20, 2010 and was accounted for and was later reduced to 4m euros.

Finally, the FAI stated that in 2013 the loan was written off, attaching a letter signed by FIFA's deputy general secretary, Markus Kattner, confirming as much.

Delaney, Kattner and general secretary Jerome Valcke's signatures also appear on the agreement document relating to the loan, again posted by the FAI on its official website.

Earlier, Kenny had said he believed the FAI chief's position remained "tenable" and expressed his confidence that outstanding questions about the payment would be responded to.

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