Thursday 18 April 2019

FAI board silent on crisis before Oireachtas grilling as Fianna Fáil TD Kevin O'Keeffe attends Euro draw

Delaney speaks at Euro U-17 draw but board members decline to comment as hearing looms

John Delaney speaks at Under-17 draw and (inset) FF TD Kevin O'Keeffe
John Delaney speaks at Under-17 draw and (inset) FF TD Kevin O'Keeffe
John Delaney. Photo: PA

Daniel McDonnell and Laura Larkin

FAI board members declined to comment on the crisis that has enveloped Irish football as the association refused to confirm who will attend their Oireachtas Committee hearing next Wednesday.

The Dáil panel have requested that ex-FAI CEO John Delaney is accompanied by senior board members for the session, but Abbotstown officials will not confirm their delegation.

There is a strong expectation that president Donal Conway, legal & corporate affairs representative Páraic Treanor and honorary treasurer Eddie Murray will accept a request to join Delaney and interim CEO Rea Walshe.

Conway, Delaney and several members of the FAI board were present at last night's draw in Dublin for May's European U-17 Championships, where Ireland will face Greece, Czech Republic and Belgium.

Delaney spoke from the stage in his capacity as a UEFA board member after being welcomed as a special guest by Conway. But the pair stayed away from microphones and vice-president Noel Fitzroy and League of Ireland chair Eamon Naughton batted away media requests.

"Good to see you ... I'm not commenting," said Fitzroy. Oireachtas Committee member Kevin O'Keeffe did accept the invitation to attend the draw but his counterparts were not present.

Meanwhile, A member of the Oireachtas committee which is due to question John Delaney and FAI representatives sat alongside members of the organisation's board last night as Mr Delaney addressed a Uefa youth finals draw.

Fianna Fáil TD Kevin O'Keeffe hit the headlines last week after it emerged Mr Delaney, then the FAI chief executive, secured him two tickets to last year's World Cup Final in Russia.

Mr O'Keeffe told the 'Irish Sun' he paid €903 each for the tickets, and had asked Mr Delaney whether he could help secure the much sought-after tickets.

Mr Delaney and a number of FAI officials have been invited to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport next week.

The Cork TD is a member of the committee, and last night sat in the same row as FAI board members at the Uefa European Under-17 Championship Finals draw at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

When asked by the Irish Independent if his presence at the event was appropriate, Mr O'Keeffe said: "I think it's a big occasion for the country to be hosting a European championship. Hopefully it does good for the country."

He also said he is sports spokesperson for Fianna Fáil and said he did not speak to members of the FAI about the issues likely to be raised at the committee. FAI officials are due to face up to eight hours of questioning before the committee amid concerns over governance.

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