Solicitors were instructed to deny video showed John Delaney
Guardian threatened with legal action if they identified FAI chief executive in Youtube clip
FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
The Guardian newspaper has reported that it was threatened with legal action in the event that it named FAI chief executive John Delaney as the man singing the ballad song Joe McDonnell in a YouTube video.
The association had declined to respond to calls from The Irish Times when it pursued the story but The Guardian received a communication from London based law firm Debello Law in which it was stated by a representative of the firm that: “My client’s position is simply that it is not him singing in the video. If you take the decision to publish legal proceedings will follow as it will undoubtedly cause various issues for my client.”
Delaney subsequently acknowledged that it was indeed him in the video over the course of a round of radio interviews and said that he apologised “if the song offends anyone” before characterising the recording of the incident, which took place in The Bath pub, around the corner from the Aviva stadium, shortly after the game between the Republic of Ireland and USA teams last Tuesday evening as “sly”.
He said during the first of the interviews that: “Joe McDonnell was a song that [was previously] sang in my presence and I chipped in with on a number of occasions in the past,” he said. “I’m not someone who supports violence at all. In fact over a large number of years I have been working closely with cross-border initiatives in football to break down barriers.
“I’m not a violent person,” he continued. “My grandfather fought in the civil war and he also fought in the war of independence. I have always said I have a nationalist background. When you sing a song like that you don’t believe in every word that is in the song.
“I sing a large number of songs and it’s normally done in a private way when there is a sing-song. It’s a typically Irish thing we do, we sing songs amongst a group and you expect that to be kept within the group.
“Unfortunately on occasions people use camera phones in a sly way when they are not in your company and then they try to make something bigger out of it. If the song offends anyone of course I’m sorry, it’s not in my nature to want to offend people.”
Delaney was recently accused of creating “unnecessary tension” by supporters’ group You Boys In Green (YBIG) in advance of the Scotland game at a time when he was coming in for considerable criticism over the association’s handling of its ticket allocation for Celtic Park.
This latest incident is unlikely to do much for his or the association’s already damaged relations with the Scottish Football Association or, perhaps, the English or Northern Irish associations.
The English and Scotland teams are both due to visit Dublin in June, the Scots for a European Championship qualifying game, the English for a long-awaited, potentially lucrative friendly.