Tuesday 21 November 2017

Keith Andrews: 'As a player that night, the €5million hush money doesn't sit well with me'

Ireland players Robbie Keane and Keith Andrews comfort each other after the final whistle FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifying Play-off 2nd Leg, Republic of Ireland v France
Ireland players Robbie Keane and Keith Andrews comfort each other after the final whistle FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifying Play-off 2nd Leg, Republic of Ireland v France
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

Keith Andrews has insisted the FAI was wrong to accept €5million from FIFA and has demanded that the Association reveal where every penny went.

Andrews played in Paris in 2009 when Thierry Henry’s handball led to Ireland losing 2-1, ending the Boys In Green’s World Cup hopes.

On Newstalk’s Off The Ball tonight, Andrews spoke of the heartache the players suffered in the aftermath of that fateful night and insisted that the money received from FIFA was hush money and not a loan.

The former Ireland midfielder also blasted the lack of transparency from the FAI following this week’s revelations that John Delaney accepted the pay-off, despite the FAI CEO insisting at the time that “it was not about the money, it’s about the integrity of the game”.

“The fans, the country as a whole, we have been able to hold our heads up high (in the aftermath of Paris). That was the one comfort we all had from that night in Paris and now I think that has been taken away from us,” said Andrews on Off The Ball.

“I find it all very very sad. There has been a lot going on the past few weeks with UEFA and FIFA and now, unfortunately, we are going to be tarred with that same brush.

“As a player at the time it doesn’t sit well for me. If you are asking me, personally, if I would have taken a penny from them, absolutely not.

“Do I blame them from going and try to undo the injustice we suffered that night, no absolutely not. But to take the money off them, for me personally, was wrong.”

Andrews insists that the FAI and Delaney must now act quickly and reveal exactly where the money was invested.

“The money was taken so personally I would like to see where that money has gone. If it is gone to grassroots football, or earmarked for any training centres so the senior team and all underage teams could use it, then that money would have gone to some use.

“I wouldn’t have taken the money but we did so where is it gone and, if it has gone to good use, then it would sit that little bit better with me.”

Delaney had accused Blatter of demonstrating a lack of transparency during his tenure as head of FIFA and while Andrews insists he was right to fight Ireland’s corner following the events in Paris, he says the FAI’s lack of transparency has been hard to take.

“John Delaney, was he right to fight our corner? We had been served a huge injustice and the FAI suffered a huge financial loss so it did hit them hard.

“But the way they went about it, the lack of transparency with this whole affair, with the amount of money given and FIFA coming out and saying it was a loan, well it wasn’t a loan, it was hush money. Literally get rid of John Delaney, the FAI, anyone who was saying anything about that night. It was hush money, quite simply.”

When asked if John Delaney should step down as CEO of the FAI, Andrews was cautious in his response.

“I think it is a hard question to answer. As much as I was involved with the Irish team, I don’t know the ins and outs of how a federation is run. I don’t know the full extent of what John does from the top to the bottom. But certainly on this particular incident, it has been very very unsavoury to say the least.”

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