Saturday 16 December 2017

Hickey 'anointed one' John Delaney stays silent after Rio fiasco

FAI chief's Olympic ambitions are in doubt as Ross pledges change

FAI Chief Executive John Delaney
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

FAI chief John Delaney yesterday maintained his silence over the Pat Hickey affair.

Just days before he was arrested in Rio, Pat Hickey had enthusiastically predicted that Mr Delaney would soon take his job as President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI).

As the board of the OCI meets today, its long-term future as well as the current crisis in the Brazilian capital will be on the minds of its executive.

Read more: After days of being 'back in his box', Ross comes up with an inquiry - yet still has a lot of ground to make up

Read more: Clear-out of OCI's executive on cards, hints Ross

Sports Minister Shane Ross has already indicated that a clear-out of the OCI's senior executives could be on the cards. The Minister said that the independent inquiry he has ordered into the Rio ticketing scandal should not shy away from tough questions about the board's handling of governance.

On Friday, the OCI board said it "regrets events in Brazil have overshadowed the many great performances of Team Ireland". It promised to "co-operate" fully with the inquiry and has appointed Arthur Cox as legal advisors.

"The board has no further comment on the charges against Mr Hickey, who is receiving his own legal advice and is entitled to natural justice and due process," it said.

Former Olympian Sonia O'Sullivan as well as John Delaney, and head of Swim Ireland Sarah Keane, are among the board members due to meet, with a statement expected in the late evening.

The meeting will be chaired by the OCI's acting president Willie O'Brien.

For John Delaney, the current investigation of Hickey by police in Rio and Hickey's ultimate fate will have profound implications for his ambitions to become Ireland's most powerful sports administrator.

Mr Delaney was effectively "anointed" OCI president-in-waiting by Pat Hickey on the first day of the Rio Games. He said John Delaney was the 'favourite' to follow in his footsteps and take the role from 2020.

In the interim, vice-president Willie O'Brien would take on the role, Mr Hickey said.

"Our understanding of it is that Willie will do a stint up until Tokyo and then the favourite at the moment to take over from him is John Delaney from the FAI," Mr Hickey told RTE, adding "John is very popular".

"Some countries have problems with the soccer federations and Olympic committees, but we've never had a problem," Mr Hickey said.

Since Pat Hickey's arrest, John Delaney has made no public statement on the controversy. He could not be contacted yesterday - but an official FAI spokesperson said that he would not be commenting on the matter.

Sunday Independent

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