Women’s football team to boycott FAI training camp

‘They are stonewalling, trying to run the women’s team on peanuts’

The Ireland women’s national football team have held a press conference where they outlined their concerns about the conditions under which they train and play and how the FAI have failed to address these concerns. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Members of the Republic of Ireland women’s national team have decided not to attend a Football Association of Ireland (FAI) training camp on Wednesday.

“The players have not taken this decision lightly,” said Professional Footballers Association of Ireland (PFAI) player executive, Ollie Cahill.

“The players wish to make clear that they simply want the FAI to respect their right to choose their own representatives and have all the outstanding issues which are affecting their ability to achieve their maximum potential for their country resolved in a swift, amicable and professional manner.”

Fourteen members of the Republic of Ireland women’s team and their representatives from the were in Liberty Hall on Tuesday where they said that their various attempts over the last two years to have action taken to concerns over payments for loss of earnings and the general treatment of the squad have come to nothing.

‘Humiliating’

At the heart of the issue, it was repeatedly stressed, has been the association’s steadfast refusal to engage with the PFAI despite the players making it entirely clear that that is how they wish to proceed. “We are leaving it in the hands of the PFAI,” insisted goalkeeper and long-time team captain, Emma Byrne. “We don’t want to deal with it.”

She described it as “humiliating” that the players had had to resort to airing their grievances in public but said that a situation in which various members of the squad were obliged to change in and out of FAI tracksuits before and after trips away because they were not allowed to keep kit was unacceptable

Earlier on Wednesday, Cork Solidarity TD Mick Barry said public money given to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) should be used as leverage to ensure better terms for the women’s team.

Mr Barry said that at a meeting in private session of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport on Wednesday morning, it was agreed that FAI chief executive John Delaney and other top FAI officials would be called before the committee next week if the issues which the international women’s team exposed were not resolved immediately.

He said that ordinary members of the public would not look favourably on the sharp contrast between the large wages received by the Mr Delaney and the difficulties being experienced by the women’s team.

Mr Barry told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the committee wants to hear John Delaney and the FAI “saying hands up that they’re wrong”.

He said it had been very disappointing to hear that the women’s team were being treated like fifth-class citizens.

“Their demands are very modest – €300 match day fee and compensation for lost wages – these are very basic demands.”

Mr Barry also supported the demand by the women’s team that they be represented in any discussions with the FAI by the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland (PFAI).

“The women clearly are frustrated that in their eyes no real negotiations have taken place and that the FAI refuses point blank to talk to their chosen representatives.

‘Outrageous’

“The FAI is in receipt of millions of public monies. Their refusal to talk to the PFAI is anti-union. They are stonewalling. Trying to run the women’s team on peanuts. We need to use public funding as leverage to ensure justice is done.”

Meanwhile, former Ireland women’s soccer team manager Noel King has described as “outrageous” the comments made by the womens’ team.

He said that the descriptions “dirt on the boot of the FAI” and “fifth-class citizens” were “completely wrong.”

Mr King maintained that the women’s team receive money “on a par” with men’s team and the women would not have achieved the international success to date “if the FAI hadn’t put the money in”.

He said that the tracksuit issue had been resolved and that the women’s team stay in the same standard of hotels as the men’s team.

“Unless they talk this won’t be resolved. They deserve money, but to get involved with a man who talk like that (at the press conference) is not good.”

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