McCarthy says players won’t be affected by ongoing crisis at FAI

‘The players aren’t FAI employees. They don’t come in every day, not having to hear it’

Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy says his team are not distracted by the ongoing crisis at the FAI. Photograph: Sportsfile

Mick McCarthy has dismissed the suggestion that the Irish players might be in any way affected by the ongoing crisis at the FAI with the Republic of Ireland manager adamant that the squad are insulated from events by the need to focus on getting Euro 2020 qualifying results against Denmark and Gibraltar.

Speaking on Virgin Media’s Ireland AM, the 60-year-old said that: “we (the staff) are aware of it but footballers come in and play football; they’re not administrators, they’re not accountants, they’re not bankers, they’re not anything else.

“I think if as a footballer you let all those daily things influence you to play badly, not play as well as you should, you’re not going to have a really good career. They’re all professionals (and) they’re going to do their job.”

Asked if he was suggesting that modern day players tend to live in a world of their own, the former Sunderland and Ipswich boss suggested that they, for the most part, are ordinary people having to perform in an extraordinary environment.


"They live in the world that they live in. The money they get, they perform and entertain on a regular basis and are paid thousands, hundreds of thousands; you see with the game in Madrid at the weekend that people turn up, that's because of the footballers on the pitch, not because of the administrators at Uefa or Fifa; it's to go and watch the game that they idolise those players. Most footballers are pretty regular people. They've got a fabulous job but they are ordinary guys, most of them."

It is not the first time he has reflected on the fact that his players are slightly removed from all of the investigations and financial issues out at Abbotstown.

“The staff will be aware of it because they are working every day,” he observed last week. “The players aren’t FAI employees. They don’t come in every day, they’re not having to hear it, read it, listen to it. They just come in and play football.

“I’ve never heard one of them talk to me about it,” he continued. ‘Here, gaffer what do you think about that?’ Honestly it’s just not a topic of conversation that we have. You’re pretty much protected when you are out there, one of that 11, from everything else that is going on when that whistle goes. They just go out there and they can perform. Everything else can be going completely bellies but out there and the training ground, nobody gives it a thought.”

McCarthy says that he personally feels "really sad" for the association's ordinary staff and for the coaches who are closer to them, like Stephen Kenny, whose achievement out in Toulon on Monday, he argued on Tuesday, is one of many positive things to get a little lost in all of governance issues.

The association's board battles on, however, and despite Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross having made it clear on Friday that he believed Noel Mooney taking a leading role in the organisation would represent an added impediment to the restoration of public funding, the 43 year-old started work there on Monday.

The Limerickman is not part of the FAI delegation at the Fifa Congress which is taking place in Paris on Wednesday, as John Delaney would have been. The association's president Donal Conway is there for the unopposed re-election of Gianni Infantino while Mooney starts to settle into his new role back at Abbotstown.

McCarthy, meanwhile, has restated his belief that Luca Connell will play a competitive match for Ireland when he is fit again and so commit his long term future to the team.

There is renewed pressure on the manager to tie down the teenage midfielder after the controversy that surrounded Declan Rice's decision at the start of the year to declare for England, where he was born despite having played underage and friendly senior games for Ireland.

Currently preparing with England for Thursday's Nations League playoff game against the Netherlands, the rising West Ham star said he was relaxed about the controversy that accompanied his very public change of heart.

“Most people would have thought that was tough to take on,” he said, “with loads of papers in Ireland writing about me and Irish players speaking about me. But it is always going to blow over and I am so laid-back, I do not really take much notice of it.

“I am just focused on what I have got to do for club and country. I have had to be mentally strong and I have been like that since I was a kid.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times