Friday 19 January 2018

‘This is the Roy Keane moment for the women’s team’ - PFAI representative compares women’s situation to Saipan

Jack O'Toole

Professional Football Association of Ireland solicitor Stuart Gilhooly has said that Tuesday’s women’s national team press conference in Dublin was the women’s team’s ‘Roy Keane moment’, as the national squad call on the FAI to address several issues within women’s football in Ireland, including the senior team having to share tracksuits with other underage teams.

14 players from the Irish women's team gathered in the Liberty Hall Theatre today to form a united front against the FAI as the women’s team look to resolve several longstanding issues they encounter whilst on national team duty.

Issues for players include the lack of remuneration for players, the lack of proper kit, no gym memberships, lack of reimbursement for physiotherapy, and having to change into tracksuits in public bathrooms before flying out for games.

The women’s team have threatened the danger of strike action if the matters are not resolved, but PFAI solicitor Stuart Gilhooly, the player’s elected counsel, said that the women’s team are treated like the ‘dirt off the shoe’ by the FAI, but that the women’s team had their Roy Keane moment today in Liberty Hall.

“The lack of dignity in receiving a tracksuit the day before or day of a match, having to go into a public toilet to change and then having to give the tracksuit back. We're talking about an international team who has to give their tracksuits back. It's quite extraordinary,” said Gilhooly.

“The women's international team is not being treated as a second class citizen, but a fifth class citizen. They are the dirt off the FAI's shoe. That's how they see them.

“We regard this as the Roy Keane moment for the international women’s team. Roy Keane, as we all know, famously made a stance 15 years ago and things changed after that.

“There’s a difference here. Everyone is here. Every one of them is here; this isn’t one person saying this isn’t good enough, this isn’t a Roy Keane moment, this a whole team moment.

“Where [the players] they’re saying ‘we’re not going to stand for this anymore. You need to do to something and they still decide to treat them in this sanctimonious, patronising manner, and it’s not good enough.”

Keane famously stormed out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup after he was dissatisfied with Ireland’s pre-tournament preparation for the finals in South Korea & Japan.

His public spat with the FAI eventually led to the introduction of The Genesis Report, an independent report commissioned by the FAI which was conducted by external consultants Genesis, who largely agreed with many of Keane’s criticisms.

The FAI have still yet to carry out some of the recommendations in The Genesis Report, but they did respond to Tuesday’s press conference, claiming that they are disappointed with the women’s team for ‘threatening to withdraw’ from Monday’s match with Slovakia.

Ireland captain Emma Byrne said that Tuesday’s press conference was a last resort for her side after nearly two years of prolonged negotiations, but that the women’s team would be willing to take any necessary course of action to ensure that changes are made, including withdrawing from fixtures.

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