FAI face fine over tennis ball protest as provinces back John Delaney
The FAI are highly unlikely to appeal the prospect of a small five-figure financial penalty arising out of Tuesday night's tennis ball protest during the Euro 2020 qualifier win over Georgia.
UEFA yesterday opened disciplinary proceedings in response to the incident in the 33rd minute of the fixture at the Aviva Stadium when fewer than 100 home supporters tossed tennis balls onto the field in a pre-planned protest at ongoing controversies involving the FAI.
The case will be dealt with by the ten-man, multi-national UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary on May 16 and recent precedents suggest that, although stadium bans can be wielded as punishment, a fine of between €10-30,000 is likely.
The game was delayed by four minutes on the instruction of the referee, allowing the tennis balls to be cleared by stewards, before the match resumed with Conor Hourihane scoring the winning goal direct from a free-kick.
Elsewhere, while Sports Minister Shane Ross has said a loan given by ex-FAI chief John Delaney to the organisation has "raised serious questions about governance and financial controls in the FAI", the four provincial FAI councils have issued strong support for the embattled Delaney.
"All in the grassroots game... fully believe he is the person to continue his work with UEFA and FIFA matters in his new role as Executive Vice-President," said yesterday's statement outlining Delaney's achievements.