Monday 16 September 2019

Minister Shane Ross meets with UEFA and FIFA officials - but discussion fails to solve 'disagreement' over FAI

Sports Minister Shane Ross
Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Sports Minister Shane Ross Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FAI President Donal Conway says that a meeting between Shane Ross and officials from UEFA and FIFA failed to solve the 'disagreement' that exists between the Minister for Sport and the football association.

Conway was speaking after his re-election as President of the FAI, a move that was vehemently opposed by Minister Ross.

Vice President Noel Fitzroy did not seek another year on the interim board, making a late move to step down after coming under pressure.

State funding has been suspended due to concerns about the operations of the FAI in the aftermath of a turbulent period.

However, a call from Ross for Conway to step down raised the attention of UEFA and FIFA who have strict rules on government interference in support.

A meeting was set up for Friday night with outgoing FAI board member Niamh O'Donoghue also present.

"Minister Ross met with two members of UEFA - Yann (Hafner) and Thierry (Favre) - and Sara (Solemale) from FIFA, and the only board member there was Niamh O’Donoghue," said Conway.

"They had a constructive discussion. Some number of weeks ago we brought Fifa and Uefa across to meet with Sport Ireland, and they were laying out lines, and if you cross those there is the danger of third-party interference.

"I wasn’t there but I got a report, and UEFA and FIFA reinforced their situation that choices about who leads the executive team or the officer board would be matters for the member association.

"Minister Ross stuck to the position he has adopted over the last number of weeks.

"At any juncture talking about Minister Ross, I’ve always held out an olive branch. I’m not going to press that into a potential conflict or create a sense of impending threat. The fact that the meeting took place and that conversations took place is good.

"Both sides understand their respective positions better. That’s always good. I’m sure Minister Ross and Donal Conway want to get to the same place: a governing body for sport with governance of the highest standard.

"There may still be some disagreement on how best to effect that but the FAI are willing to talk to Mr Ross at any stage about how best to move forward.”

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