TD: Crossed wires to blame for FAI ticket denial

A TD who attended last summer’s World Cup Final with the help of the FAI has said “crossed wires” were to blame for him apparently denying the association had any involvement in his attendance at the match. Kevin O’Keeffe, Fianna Fail’s sports spokesman was last week asked by this newspaper if the FAI helped him attend the event in Moscow in any way, and he said “no”.

However he has since confirmed that the FAI secured two tickets for the match between France and Croatia, and said he and a friend paid €1,006 for the pair. Mr O’Keeffe is deputy chair of the Oireachtas sport committee, which is soon due to question FAI executive vice president John Delaney on corporate governance and financial matters at the Association.

Last Thursday the Irish Examiner contacted Mr O’Keeffe to enquire as to how he got tickets to the World Cup final. He said he bought the tickets “privately” with a friend at some expense. Asked if the FAI had sourced the tickets for him to purchase, Mr O’Keeffe said they had no involvement, and that they got the tickets “off our own back”. Asked if the FAI facilitated his attendance at the World Cup Final at all, Mr O’Keeffe said “no”.

He since confirmed to The Sun that the FAI did source the tickets for him.

However speaking to the Irish Examiner yesterday, Mr O’Keeffe said there was a case of “wires crossed” and that his original reply intended to inform that the FAI did not have any involvement in his itinerary for the trip to Russia. This newspaper put it to Mr O’Keeffe that he had been asked if the FAI assisted him in any way, said no, and that his latest comments apparently contradict this.

Mr O’Keeffe said he never denied getting the tickets from the FAI, but that he had maintained that he was responsible for the financing and logistics of the trip. Last Thursday we also submitted a query in writing to the FAI Press Office.

We asked: “Did the FAI or any of its employees provide Mr O’Keeffe with his ticket to the match, or facilitate or assist him in buying a ticket or assist him in his attendance at the fixture in any way, and if so how?”

A spokesperson responded to say a response would be forthcoming when staff arrived in Gibraltar ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifying match, but that the FAI was aware this newspaper had spoken to Mr O’Keeffe on the matter.

The spokesperson later supported Mr O’Keeffe’s earlier account. Mr O’Keeffe has since told the Irish Examiner the FAI contacted him last Thursday upon receiving our query. The FAI told the Irish Examiner that: “As per Mr O’Keeffe’s public comments, the FAI can confirm it assisted him with a ticket request as has been the case with many fans over the years.

“Such matters are confidential and we respected that confidence but as Mr O’Keeffe has now gone public we can confirm this arrangement. The FAI has no further comment to make.”

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