Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Refusing to play for Ireland will not help the players' reputations' - FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter

Ruud Dokter
Ruud Dokter
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter has said that there are "serious and tangible offers" on the table for the women's national team and he urged them to engage with talks.

A group of 13 players held a press conference in Dublin on Tuesday to express their growing disquiet as they fight for compensation from the Football Association of Ireland for lost earnings while on international duty and improved resources.

The women have enlisted the backing of the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland (PFAI) in their fight over a series of issues, including a demand for match fees of 300 Euros, bonuses of 150 Euros for a win and 75 Euros for a draw, gym membership for the squad and the provision of team clothing - with some players claiming they have had to change in airport toilets to hand back tracksuits after games.

Dokter confirmed a FAI board decision that they do not negotiate with the PFAI with regard to international teams and outlined that they had made efforts to address all the concerns of the women's team and wanted to engage with them through an "independent mediator".

An email signed by Mr Dokter was leaked today and it contained a warning that their "proposed actions could damage your club careers".

Speaking on Off The Ball on Newtalk this evening, Dokter said that refusing to play Slovakia next week over their grievances would hurt the players reputations.

"There might be issues, there might be problems but we are talking about representing your country. That is the biggest honour to be given to an athlete," he said.

"Refusing to play for your country is not the appropriate mechanism and this will not help to resolve the problem and obviously, it will not help your reputation of course.

"We need to sit down at the table and resolve this matter.

"We are willing to talk with the players and that's the bottom line and I don't see why the players don't want to talk with us. They might not have the trust because things were not going  quick enough but give trust a chance because we do have good offers for them.

"It's not good where we are now and we want to resolve this very quickly.

"We have nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Addressing the claim that players had to change in airport toilets, he said: "The toilet issue, we will address that. They will be given tracksuits for travel on international duty. It's not an ideal situation and we realise that we need to change that."

He said it would be possible to organise gym membership for players.

On the issue of poor or non-existent wifi on away trips, he said:  "Yes, that has been a problem not only for the women's team but other teams.  At home, we can control that, away, we are not always able in a position to control that because you might be in countries with poor wifi."

On the issue of non-professional players to receive compensation loss of earnings and the demand of match fees for players, he said: "We have a serious and tangible offer to discuss with the players

"I can't discuss this but we have a serious offer."

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