Wednesday 29 January 2020

John Delaney walked out of OCI meeting over Pat Hickey phone call

Refusal: John Delaney pictured with his partner Emma English and Pat Hickey
Refusal: John Delaney pictured with his partner Emma English and Pat Hickey
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Football boss John Delaney was among a group of Olympic Council of Ireland executives who walked out of a meeting after Pat Hickey requested to speak to them by speaker phone.

The FAI chief executive refused to engage with Mr Hickey who is currently on bail in Brazil facing charges of criminal organisation, ticket touting, ambush marketing, larceny, money laundering, and tax evasion.

The Sunday Independent understands that Mr Hickey wanted to "touch base" with the OCI Executive Committee when they met in Dublin on September 6.

However, the move caused tensions within the committee as several members felt it was "totally inappropriate" for Mr Hickey to have any contact with the board.

Sources say Mr Delaney was among the group to express strong reservations and to leave the room rather than listen to what Mr Hickey had to say.

The OCI is paying for an apartment in Rio where Mr Hickey has been ordered to stay while the police investigation continues.

A spokesperson for the OCI confirmed: "Just before the OCI Executive Committee meeting began on September 6, Mr Hickey spoke to some Executive Committee members by speaker phone from Brazil.

"When that call ended other members of the Executive Committee joined the group and the Executive Committee meeting began."

Mr Hickey stood down as President of the OCI following his arrest on August 17, although he has insisted that this is only "temporary" until his legal case in Rio de Janeiro concludes.

In the meantime OCI vice-president Willie O'Brien has taken over the presidential duties.

Mr Delaney is OCI second vice-president but has not taken on any extra responsibility in Mr Hickey's absence and has attempted to distance himself from the controversy.

He has issued legal letters to several media outlets about their coverage of events in Rio and last month issued a statement saying has "no knowledge of or involvement in anything to do with tickets for the Rio games".

Aside from the investigation by Brazilian police into alleged ticket touting at the Olympics, two separate probes are under way in Dublin.

The OCI has commissioned auditors Grant Thornton to carry out an independent review into the appointment of company PRO10 as the official ticket reseller and any potential links to THG who were barred from operating at the Olympics.

The Government has also appointed Judge Carroll Moran to carry out a State inquiry.

Mr Delaney has already signalled that he is likely to step down as the FAI's volunteer member of the OCI, saying he will "reconsider" his position in the "coming period".

Sources have told the Sunday Independent that a number of other members are also keen to "get off" the board in the wake of the scandal.

"It's a difficult situation though because nobody wants to do anything that could unsettle the ongoing investigations," a source said.

Sunday Independent

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