Stephen Kenny: FAI investigation into motivational video was ‘non story’

Ireland manager showed his players a video before last year’s friendly against England

Ireland’s next match under Stephen Kenny is the World Cup qualifier in Portugal on September 1st.  Photograph: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Ireland’s next match under Stephen Kenny is the World Cup qualifier in Portugal on September 1st. Photograph: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

 

The Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has called the FAI investigation into a video shown to his players before last year’s friendly against England a “non story.”

Kenny’s assistant coach Damien Duff and goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly resigned in the aftermath of the investigation.

“There was absolutely nothing in that,” Kenny told Claire Byrne on RTÉ radio. “That was actually a video of the Irish players training and scoring in games, and some videos of past goals from Irish players against England intertwined with some pieces of history.

“To be honest, it’s old news now. I’m not sure why it was such a big story, and maybe that’s a bigger story.”

Duff, one of Ireland’s greatest players, abruptly quit the international set-up last January. Kelly, who had previously denied leaking the story in the English media, stepped down a week later citing concerns over Covid “viciously circulating in our communities.”

Chelsea assistant coach Anthony Barry replaced Duff while Dean Kiely, another former Ireland goalkeeper, stepped into Kelly’s role.

Duff has made two vague references to the incident in his role as a football pundit for RTÉ, stating last February that “I’ve never let my country down, and I’ll continue to work for Irish football” and noting before Scotland faced England at Wembley in the Euros that “if it was up to me, I would definitely make a motivational video.”

The video, believed to have been shown in the Wembley changing room before the 3-0 defeat last November, has never been leaked into the public domain, nor were the details of the FAI investigation, which makes it curious that such a “non story” has so many unanswered questions surrounding it.

“It’s a shame, number one, that it happened,” said Roy Barrett, the FAI chairman at last year’s AGM. “Secondly, it was a shame the way it played out in the media.

“The outcome from establishing the facts was that things were said in the dressing-room that didn’t seem to be too offensive to anybody, to be frank.

“It’s in the context of a dressing-room environment. When I look at the facts and what I understand to have happened, yeah, I don’t think we should have been in the realm of where we were in terms of a big media discussion about it.

“What we found out didn’t warrant it.”

Byrne also asked Kenny this morning about recent incidents where English and Irish players were booed for taking the knee before matches to protest against racism.

“It was strange it came from [BRITISH]government level where [Home Secretary] Priti Patel actually backed the people who booed,” said Kenny.

When Byrne noted that British prime minister Boris Johnson believes in action rather than gestures, Kenny replied: “I don’t agree with that. We had that ourselves in Hungary where the players took the knee and of course they were booed and the [HUNGARIAN]prime minister [VIKTOR ORBÁN]backed the stance [OF FANS], I don’t get that. There needs to be a leadership from the highest levels of government.

“I absolutely backed [THE PLAYERS]. I don’t see it as a political gesture, I think it’s humanitarian and I think, if they want to do it, I’m completely behind it.

“[Politics and sport], have always been intertwined in some way going back to all of the Olympic Games throughout the years. You can never divorce the two. There’s no doubt that is a factor.”

Ireland’s next match under Kenny is the World Cup qualifier in Portugal on September 1st.

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