Saturday 29 April 2017

John Delaney: FIFA paid us off after Thierry Henry handball so we wouldn't take legal case

FAI chief executive John Delaney
FAI chief executive John Delaney
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

FAI chief executive John Delaney has confirmed that the Association received financial compensation from FIFA following the infamous Thierry Henry handball in 2009.

Ireland were deprived a place at the 2010 World Cup after losing to France in a two-legged play-off. Giovanni Trapattoni's side were level at 1-1 in Paris and heading for a penalty shoot-out when Henry's illegal intervention allowed William Gallas score the winner and break Irish hearts.

At the time, Delaney denied that monetary compensation was a motivating factor.

“It’s not about money," he said the day after the game. "This is about sporting integrity."

It was reported a year ago that the FAI received €5m in compensation for the costly mistake, with Delaney admitting on The Ray D'Arcy Show on RTE Radio One today that an agreement was reached, without confirming the figure.

He explained to listeners how the agreement came into place.

"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.

'Our World Cup history is so brief that a moment like Paris is always going to live in the memory, especially for those who were present on that heartbreaking November night in Stade de France.' Photo: RTE
'Our World Cup history is so brief that a moment like Paris is always going to live in the memory, especially for those who were present on that heartbreaking November night in Stade de France.' Photo: RTE

"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, widely reported to be €5m, 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.”

When asked if he had ever been offered a bribe, Delaney laughed: "No, not on my salary."

Blatter announced on Tuesday he was standing down amid two separate corruption inquiries being carried out by the FBI and the Swiss authorities into the conduct of senior officials at the world governing body.

Delaney re-iterated that he has long-held the view that the 79-year-old Swiss was an embarrassment to world football and indeed told him so.

Emma English and John Delaney.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Emma English and John Delaney. Photo: Tony Gavin

"In 2009 I called him an embarrassment to FIFA and to himself. He called me over about that, across the table like I am talking to you, with one or two expletives," he said.

"That was in a room. He said, ‘No-one speaks to me like that', and I said, ‘well I do' and that was that."

Delaney also revealed a recent meeting Blatter had with Delaney's partner Emma English, where the FAI was forced to tell the FIFA boss to stop staring at the PR event organiser.

Read more: John Delaney: Sepp Blatter stared at my partner Emma and said 'I approve' – I told him to move on

"He met Emma, my partner, in Vienna recently. He stared at her for seven or eight seconds and he said, 'I approve of your new girlfriend'".

"I asked him to move on, move on please.

"She is a great girl, I love her very much, it was an extraordinary moment. If she was here she would tell you herself. He stared at her and I said 'move on' and he did."

Meanwhile, the fall-out from recent events within FIFA continues to make worldwide headlines.

Chuck Blazer, formerly a senior official with the CONCACAF confederation which represents North American, Central American and Caribbean nations, has admitted in an FBI plea bargain published by the US Department of Justice on Wednesday that he and other FIFA executive committee members took bribes in relation to the 2010 and 1998 World Cup bids.

Warner, Blazer's former colleague at CONCACAF, was also named in the US indictment on alleged FIFA corruption and resigned from all football activity in 2011 following separate bribery allegations surrounding that year's FIFA presidential elections.

Speaking on Wednesday in his native Trinidad, Warner promised an "avalanche" of revelations would come out about his dealings with Blatter and FIFA, and said Blatter could not carry on until the election of a new FIFA president, which may not happen until as late as March next year.

Listen to John Delaney's full interview here:

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