Thursday 14 December 2017

Ruud Gullit frustrated by FAI being 'bought off for €5m'

Ruud Gullit: 'With that, I’m not so mad about FIFA, I am more mad about Ireland. I would be mad at my federation'
Ruud Gullit: 'With that, I’m not so mad about FIFA, I am more mad about Ireland. I would be mad at my federation'
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Dutch legend Ruud Gullit has admitted that he was shocked when he heard of the FAI's €5m deal with FIFA and says that the Irish players from that infamous night in Paris should be furious with the association.

Gullit has some experience of FIFA politics after heading up the doomed Holland-Belgium bid for the 2018 World Cup, although he does feel that a litany of scandals have taken the focus away from some good work at ground level.

But the Euro '88 winner simply cannot believe that Irish people have accepted that taking Sepp Blatter's €5m offer after Thierry Henry's handball represented good business.

"With that, I'm not so mad about FIFA, I am more mad about Ireland. I would be mad at my federation," said Gullit, speaking on a promotional visit to Dublin for Carlsberg.

"What the hell is that? That was a surprise so I don't know what the Irish ... what did you do about it? Nothing? Did you just accept it?"

When it was put to him that some Irish players had expressed their dissatisfaction, with Keith Andrews the most vocal, Gullit was understanding.

"Of course they are disappointed," he said. "Bought off for €5m. That's a disappointment. It's not my federation, it's a difficult thing. On the other hand you think we were knocked out anyway, you might get something…"

His scepticism was evident in his tone, however, with Gullit slightly bemused by the FAI's assertion that they had a legal case. In his own playing career, he was on the wrong end of a contentious incident when Spain got the 11-goal victory over Malta they needed to knock the Dutch out of Euro '84.

"What can you do about it? You just accept it," he continued. "You can scream and shout, you can have a lot of opinions about it but you just get on with it.

"With Ireland, you know this game will not be played again. It's not going to happen. I think Blatter did well because he got rid of it. This is not FIFA's fault that it happened. They got it out of the way and the Irish were content with it, so move on."

That was just one of a range of topics discussed by the 52-year-old, although the former Chelsea boss was reluctant to get drawn into deep discussion of Jose Mourinho's well-publicised difficulties with doctor Eva Carneiro.

He subscribes to the view that there must be some other reason for Mourinho's unhappiness.

Gullit thinks that a more pressing worry for the Portuguese is his inability to emulate the achievements of Roberto Di Matteo in Europe.

The Italian led Chelsea to the promised land by lifting the Champions League trophy in 2012 and his former team-mate feels that win really put the Londoners on the global map - regardless of what Mourinho has done in either of his two spells.

"I think they had a wonderful season last year but I still think the main thing they want to do is win the Champions League," he explained.

"Robbie Di Matteo put Chelsea on the map of international football, he is very responsible for that. It's a different aura around it because of that.

"If you want to have international acceptance in the big teams, you need to win the Champions League. Until you win that, you can't be mentioned with the big teams. That's why PSG want it.

"Whatever happens with Liverpool, even though they've had bad seasons, they are one of the biggest clubs because of what happened in the past. Same with Bayern Munich, same with Real Madrid, same with Barcelona.

"And I remember in my era, Barcelona were a big team but not recognised internationally because they hadn't won the Champions League."

Gullit has fond memories of sparring with Roy Keane, a player he feels could have adapted to any big European outfit because of his underrated qualities.

"He has this thing that he's a tough guy but he was very intelligent," he stressed. "Everybody understood that part of his game.

"That made most teams play better. It was not about smashing players, it was more about intelligence."

He also hailed the foresight of young Dubliner Jack Byrne who has left Man City for a loan stint with Dutch top-flight side Cambuur.

"For him, it will be a fantastic experience," he enthused. "I don't like to play on plastic turf and he has to play on that, but the development is good because it will be very open and very technical and tactical."

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