FAI confirms Fifa paid €5m for controversial Thierry Henry handball
No specific record in FAI accounts of money handed over by world soccer governing body
The Football Association of Ireland has confirmed it received €5 million from Fifa in the wake of Ireland’s controversial failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. There is no specific record in the FAI’s accounts of the money given by world soccer’s governing body.
The payment from Fifa followed the Republic of Ireland’s extra-time play-off defeat to France in Paris when Thierry Henry intentionally handled the ball in the build-up to the game’s decisive goal.
A media frenzy in the game’s aftermath included calls for the game to be replayed. Sepp Blatter, the then Fifa president who resigned from the position on Tuesday, poked fun at such claims and publicly stated Ireland had sought to be included in the World Cup as a 33rd country.
FAI chief executive John Delaney said on Thursday that these events led to the Fifa payment. “I’ll tell you exactly what happened . . . We felt we had a legal case against Fifa because of how the World Cup hadn’t worked out for us because of the Henry handball. Also the way Blatter behaved if you remember on stage, having a snigger, having a laugh at us.
“So that day when I went in, I told him how I felt about him, there were some expletives used. We came to an agreement. That was a Thursday and on the Monday, the agreement was all signed and all done. It was a good agreement for the FAI, a very legitimate agreement for the FAI.”
Fifa also link the money to the defeat by France but, in a statement issued on Thursday night, it described the money as a loan, made to help with the construction costs of the Aviva stadium. Fifa also said the sum was written off when Ireland failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Jim Boyce, a Northern Irish member of the Fifa executive, said he believed such “arbitrary payments” should be investigated.
In a statement last night, the FAI insisted the €5 million payment “is fully reflected in our financial statements which are audited independently”.