Monday 19 March 2018

'Confidential payments of this nature are at odds with transparency' - Delaney's predecessor at FAI on €5m FIFA 'loan'

Former Ireland assistant Liam Brady says the staff and players didn't know of any Fifa payment

William Gallas scores after Thierry Henry had handled the ball in 2009
William Gallas scores after Thierry Henry had handled the ball in 2009
John Delaney came to a settlement with FIFA after Thierry Henry's handball in 2009
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Former FAI chief Fran Rooney believes Ireland didn't have any legal case following the infamous Thierry Henry handball in 2009 and has called on the Association to show transparency in their financial accounts.

Yesterday both FAI chief executive John Delaney and Fifa confirmed that a €5m payment had been awarded to the Association after an agreement was reached following the controversial World Cup play-off in Paris in November 2009.

Ireland were deprived a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after Giovanni Trapattoni's side were level at 1-1 and heading for a penalty shoot-out when Henry's illegal intervention allowed William Gallas score the winner and break Irish hearts.

"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," Delaney told The Ray D'Arcy Show on RTE Radio One yesterday.

Read more: 'It felt shocking that a country’s dream could perish so fraudulently' - How we reacted to infamous Henry handball in 2009 

An agreement was reached between both parties and a €5m payment was made by Fifa. In a statement released yesterday, football's world governing body said the lump sum was to be reimbursed if Ireland had qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and that the money was to be invested "for the construction of a stadium in Ireland".

The loan was written off in December 2014 after Ireland failed to reach the 2014 World Cup. Liam Brady, assistant manager to Trapattoni on that night in Paris in 2009 has said the latest developments are "mind-boggling" and says the players and staff  knew nothing of  a payment from Fifa.

"It's mind-boggling," he told Des Cahill on RTE Radio's Morning Ireland programme. "None of the staff or players knew about it at the time."

John Delaney came to a settlement with FIFA after Thierry Henry's handball in 2009
John Delaney came to a settlement with FIFA after Thierry Henry's handball in 2009

Read more: Delaney claims €5m Fifa payoff ‘was a good deal’

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland programme, Rooney believes Ireland received a "good deal" as there was no legal basis for the payment.

"I don't think anybody in football would believe we had a strong case," he said. "Refereeing decisions in all sports are final.

"In this case a handball was not given, that didn't stop us from going to the World Cup. It stopped us getting a penalty shoot-out perhaps.

"I think it's nonsensical to think we had a case that we could have won. I don't know where Fifa were coming from when they came to the settlement."

Read more: Daniel McDonnell: Delaney admission raises more questions than it answers

Rooney, who served as CEO from May 2003 to November 2004 before Delaney took over, says that both parties need to be crystal clear on the details of the arrangement.

"The big issue now for Fifa, particularly after the events of last week, we're looking at transparency. Confidential payments of this nature are at odds with transparency.

"This confidential agreement should not have been confidential. It should have been disclosed at the time, by Fifa and the FAI.

"It should have been disclosed as a legal agreement in itself. I would call now on the FAI to publish that legal agreement and settlement and let's see what is in it."

Read more: FIFA: We gave Ireland a $5m loan following Thierry Henry handball saga to build a stadium - it was written off last year

While Delaney was at pains to reiterate the deal was fully "legitimate" and "reflected" in the FAI accounts, Rooney says questions still need to be answered in how the payment was accounted for.

"Apart from the settlement itself being disclosed, there is an issue how it was disclosed in the accounts. It doesn't seem to have been reflected on the face of the accounts for a number of years.

"Best account practice would have required that this money would have been shown as a loan or a grant from Fifa. It seems that Fifa treated this as a loan. On that basis it should have been a loan in the account for 2009/10/11/12 until it was written off in 2013 or 2014.

"I'd ask the FAI, because it's not clear from the delegates and the media who were at the AGMs of the last number of years, where that money was shown in the accounts, to clearly show where that money is."

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

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