Uefa said controversial appointment of Noel Mooney was FAI decision
Mooney appointment not consistent with need for new faces in FAI, Minister says
A 2016 file photograph of Minister for Sport Shane Ross (R) and then FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photograph: ©INPHO/James Crombie
Uefa, the European football body, told Minister for Sport Shane Ross that the controversial appointment of Noel Mooney as head of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) was the Irish organisation’s decision.
The FAI has indicated that Mr Mooney’s appointment, which has been criticised strongly by the Minister, was a Uefa decision. Mr Mooney previously worked with the FAI before taking up a role with Uefa.
Earlier on Friday, Mr Ross called the appointment a “backwards step” and said he hoped the FAI would reconsider it as it would “fracture relations further” if it went ahead.
Speaking after an Irish football stakeholders forum which he convened, Mr Ross said he had spoken with Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin this week. “What he said was that, yes, the FAI had picked Noel Mooney.”
He said he had made contact with Mr Ceferin “to find out exactly what was going on, and what the truth of the matter was”.
“I wanted to find out who had made the appointment, and where the initiative came from.
“They were obviously prepared to release him, but they made it absolutely clear that it was the FAI that made the appointment. Absolutely, without a doubt, unequivocally.”
It is thought that a new round of hearings, which will address these and other matters, by the Oireachtas sport committee is likely to be held with the FAI, the Minister and Sport Ireland.
Mr Ross has said the appointment of Mr Mooney is not consistent with the FAI’s stated ambition to bring new blood into the organisation.
The Minister said he hopes the FAI “are reconsidering [the appointment] at the moment, because it would fracture relations further if they did take a step backwards”.
“That’s a decision that the FAI has certainly provisionally made, and I hope it’s one they change their minds on,” Mr Ross said.
“They have taken a step forwards in saying that they are going to resign – that’s something which we thoroughly welcome. It would be a step backwards if they decided to appoint without any transparent process a general manager who hasn’t been through a process and is not independent of the FAI in the past.”
In a statement on Friday evening, the FAI said that it notes the comments made by Mr Ross. “The employment of any person by the FAI is a matter for the FAI and the board welcomes the Minister’s acknowledgement of the autonomy of the FAI in this regard.”
“The appointment of Noel Mooney doesn’t seem to us to be consistent with the drive for reform and new faces and new independent faces,” he said on Friday morning.
The Minister rejected suggestions of political interference, saying “if we’re going to give funding then we have to be happy about corporate governance”.
“If we’re going to be happy about corporate governance, we’re absolutely determined that those people who are elected, appointed and put on the board are done so in a satisfactory way.”
He said it was not acceptable that “someone who’s got very strong past or present links with the FAI should be appointed”.
Mr Ross also reiterated he wants to see an entirely new board at the FAI. There have been reports in recent weeks that many of the board members who have committed to stepping down are considering putting themselves forward for re-election in July at the FAI’s EGM.
“That is not just our objective, that is what we expect, and that’s what’s been promised,” he said.
On the restoration of funding for the organisation, Mr Ross said: “We’re very keen that funding should be restored as soon as possible. How far we are is up to the FAI. If they get their corporate governance in order, the funding will be restored.”