'We've been treated like a minority sport' - Ireland U21 boss Stephen Kenny blasts government funding of soccer
Ireland U-21 team manager Stephen Kenny believes that football has been treated like a "minority sport" when it comes to government funding.
State funding of the FAI, via Sport Ireland, was at a level of €2.9million before it was frozen last year by Minister for Sport Shane Ross due to the ongoing crisis at the FAI. Ross is due to hold talks with officials from UEFA at a meeting in Dublin on Tuesday as part of a plan to salvage the association which has debts of €62m.
But Kenny claims that football has been unfairly treated.
"I think it opens everyone's eyes, to say in comparison to other sports over the last 20 years, even though we're the biggest sport and the majority sport - we've been treated like a minority sport. I think that has been evident," Kenny told Virgin Media Sport Tonight on Virgin Media One.
"I think that football is the most played sport in Ireland, 300,000, between young and adult players playing the game every week and that's amazing really. It's amazing when you think about it, when it came to the fore then, the crunch, for such a mass participation that the Government money was 2.9 million," Kenny added.
"With the new independent directors there seems to be a real positive mood, that seems to help.
"Obviously my concerns are with the 200 employees at the FAI, with the hundreds of players and staff who are employed in our national league and I think it is a developing industry and I think it could be a brilliant industry in Ireland, one that could be - with the right investment and the right vision - could be a terrific industry.
"By all accounts there has been good progress made and that has to be a positive and hopefully there is more stability behind the scenes."