FAI must clear about governance to receive state funding – Tánaiste

Coveney says Delaney’s refusal to answer questions to Oireachtas was ‘frustrating’

Tánaiste Simon Coveney:  ‘It is not acceptable for an organisation like the FAI to come to an Oireachtas committee and essentially stonewall them.’ Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Tánaiste Simon Coveney: ‘It is not acceptable for an organisation like the FAI to come to an Oireachtas committee and essentially stonewall them.’ Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the current controversy surrounding the FAI needs to be addressed and the organization needs to be clear about its governance after former CEO John Delaney declined to answer questions at an Oireachtas Committee last week.

Mr Coveney said that the government was anxious to support the FAI in funding soccer both at local and regional level in Ireland but it would insist on a certain standard of governance including accountability and transparency regarding its expenditure.

Mr Delaney repeatedly declined last week to answer questions at Joint Oireachtas sport committee hearing about the circumstances of a €100,000 loan he made to the cash-strapped FAI in 2017, citing legal advice for not answering questions put to him.

“It is not acceptable for an organisation like the FAI to come to an Oireachtas committee and essentially stonewall them – I mean that is what happened . . . John Delaney was there on a voluntary basis, he couldn’t be compelled to answer certain questions and that was a frustrating process for many people.”

Speaking in Cork, Mr Coveney said he was aware that the FAI board was due to meet this evening to consider events including reports that Mr Delaney might be about to step down once a severance package has been agreed but he said the FAI needed to look at how it operates.

“I think the message coming from Government but also from many other people is very consistent – if you are going to run a national sporting body, you have to do it in a way that is transparent, that implies the corporate governance that you would expect of a sporting organization of this scale and size.

“And so I think the [FAI] board will have to make its own decision but I think the message from government is very clear – we want to support soccer but we have to insist on structured corporate governance and transparency and accountability for how that money is spent.

“I think the FAI has to reflect on that and they will make decisions this evening – but I hope they will be decisions that will allow the Government to be able to fund the FAI in the future to make sure that we can get this organisation back on track.”