Monday 19 August 2019

FIFA and UEFA urge FAI to warn Ross ahead of crunch EGM vote

 

With the schoolboy faction appeased, there is confidence that the FAI will receive the approval to bring in reforms recommended by the Governance Review Group report (stock picture)
With the schoolboy faction appeased, there is confidence that the FAI will receive the approval to bring in reforms recommended by the Governance Review Group report (stock picture)
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FIFA and UEFA have written to the FAI to tell them that Minister Shane Ross is in danger of breaching rules on government interference in football affairs.

The global authorities have statutes on political intervention in their sport and member associations can be sanctioned - and even suspended - if affairs in their parish are deemed to be in contravention of those laws. FAI officials have made reference to those rules during a period where relations between Abbotstown and the government have become strained.

Earlier this week, Minister Ross urged FAI president Donal Conway to reconsider his position to stand for another year as part of an interim board.

In the letter, FIFA and UEFA say they were "seriously concerned" by that statement, before listing the rules "which oblige all member associations, including the FAI, to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from any third party".

Sport Ireland and Oireachtas Committee members indicated on Wednesday that they shared Ross's view on Conway standing again and the president subsequently suggested that those events had given the FAI food for thought ahead of today's EGM, where the priority is receiving approval for rule changes.

In that context, the joint communique from FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura, and UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis - which was addressed to FAI general manager Noel Mooney - could be viewed as backing for the argument that Conway should stay on if FAI members are happy.

Conway is the only candidate for the position of president ahead of next Saturday's AGM but the shape of that meeting will be determined by the result of this evening's vote.

With the schoolboy faction appeased, there is confidence that the FAI will receive the approval to bring in reforms recommended by the Governance Review Group report.

If that happens, a busy week lies ahead as nominations for the six 'football representatives' on an interim board would need to be submitted by close of business on Wednesday, although requests for an extension may be sought.

There remains a possibility that discussions will take place today about the possibility of delaying the business of the AGM due to a number of matters. The fact that accounts will not be presented has come in for external criticism and there is also general concern about the tight timeframe for constructing that interim board.

One of the main arguments put forward for swift action is the need to restore state funding but midweek statements confirmed that other boxes - such as the completion of a forensic audit by Northern Irish firm KOSI - need to be ticked before that picture changes.

Conway said yesterday that it's "up to the FAI" to solve problems "visited upon the FAI because of our own fault".

Irish Independent

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