Sunday 18 August 2019

FAI hit with fine from UEFA for tennis ball protest during Euro 2020 qualifier

Richard Keogh of Ireland removes a tennis ball thrown onto the pitch in protest at FAI Executive Vice President John Delaney during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group D qualifying match between Republic of Ireland and Georgia at Aviva Stadium on March 26, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Richard Keogh of Ireland removes a tennis ball thrown onto the pitch in protest at FAI Executive Vice President John Delaney during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group D qualifying match between Republic of Ireland and Georgia at Aviva Stadium on March 26, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI have been fined €10,000 by UEFA after the tennis ball protest which interrupted the Euro 2020 qualifier with Georgia last month.

Irate fans taking a stand against John Delaney and the FAI threw the balls onto the pitch in the 33rd minute of the Aviva Stadium encounter.

It caused a delay which was actually followed by Conor Hourihane's winning goal.

However, UEFA were always likely to take a dim view of the episode and they have cited Article 16 (2) of their regulations, which relates to the throwing of objects.

Their disciplinary panel has fined the FAI €10,000 as a consequence, with the decision made by 'The UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB).

Speaking on RTÉ's commentary of the match, Ronnie Whelan was heavily critical of the protest.

"Completely and utterly ridiculous," he said.

"It has been a very, very good first half from Ireland and they are rewarded by balls being thrown on the pitch. There were 50, 60 or 70 balls thrown on so that tells you everything. For a half an hour, they have been magnificent - that's the best football we've seen from Ireland for a long time."

However, RTÉ pundit Richie Sadlier defended the supporters who took part in the protest.

"These fans are angry and disillusioned for very legitimate reasons," he said.

"They were feeling this way long before Mick McCarthy took the job. They feel if there is no meaningful change in the FAI at executive level, they will continue to feel this way long after Mick leaves. It is a sign of how upset they are, how disgruntled they are, that they would show up here and do that.

"It is clear why they would do that. They could go and do that in their back garden tomorrow but there are no cameras."

Meanwhile, UEFA have remained tight lipped on whether Executive Committee member Delaney will attend the forthcoming U17 European Championships in Ireland now that he's on leave from the FAI pending ongoing investigations.

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