FAI tries to set record straight

Wed, Dec 2, 2009, 00:00

Soccer:The Football Association of Ireland today attempted to clarify the nature of their request to be included in next year’s World Cup finals. Stressing that the request was raised only fleetingly, the FAI had been assured all issues at last Friday’s meeting with Fifa would remain completely private.

When Fifa president Sepp Blatter unexpectedly brought the matter into the public domain on Monday the FAI responded by asking that the matter not be raised at today’s meeting of the governing body’s executive committee in Cape Town.

Seeking to draw a line under the matter, the FAI released a statement today explaining their original stance and accusing Blatter of “diverting attention” from the real issues of cheating and fair play in the sport.

“The FAI has already clarified that this matter was peripheral, was not raised in any of its formal written submissions to Fifa, and was explored only fleetingly as part of a wide-ranging 90-minute discussion with that body,” the statement read.

“Regrettably, the matter appears to have been singled out in public by Mr Blatter despite his assurances that the meeting would remain private.”

Blatter has received widespread criticism for the manner of his revelation, when he mockingly referred to the FAI’s ‘humble’ request to be included as a 33rd team in South Africa.

In his address to a soccer conference on Monday, Blatter also revealed that he had spoken to Thierry Henry, who’s handball sealed Ireland’s fate, and explained that he could understand why he had cheated although he did not condone his actions.

The FAI described that stance as entirely “inappropriate” and outlined a list of issues they hope to see addressed.

These included:

*Ensuring that Fifa’s rules cannot be changed mid-way through a tournament, for whatever reason, commercial or otherwise

*Introducing video technology for matches at the highest level which has been resisted for too long

*Introducing stronger sanctions for players involved in match defining breaches of the laws