Sport Ireland have approved payment of 2019 grant funding worth €195,000 to the Women’s National Football Team, with the disbursement of the money to be overseen, not by the FAI, but the accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.
Welcoming the decision, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD said that “innocent players” should not pay for the “mistakes of the FAI top brass”.
In a statement, the Minister said: “I am very pleased that we can now confirm the payment of the 2019 grant for the Women’s National Football Team and that a process has been put in place which will ensure that there is full accountability in relation to this funding.
“This funding scheme, which recognises the unique status afforded to players who represent Ireland, was introduced last year.
“Regrettably funds had to be withheld this year due to the financial and corporate governance failures in the FAI. Despite this, we have been eager to ensure we continue to support the players who make such a huge contribution as the leading exponents of women’s football in Ireland.
“There is no reason why the mistakes of the FAI top brass should be borne by innocent players. We must recognise their commitment to representing our country with such distinction, at the highest level.
“The team are wonderful role models for young women and girls and I hope they will build on their recent success to secure qualification for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021.”
It has been made clear that Sport Ireland will make the payment directly to BDO in relation to costs associated with the Women’s National Football Team Programme and that no funding will be provided to FAI bank accounts either directly from Sport Ireland, or indirectly via BDO.
The grant programme, it is pointed out, is also fully independent of any other funding allocation to the FAI by Sport Ireland.
Minister with responsibility for sport, Brendan Griffin said: “While it remains the position that funding to the FAI is suspended, the Government is continuing to support the development of football in Ireland, as evidenced by today’s decision and the recent announcement of over €4.5 million in Sports Capital Programme grants to football clubs throughout the country.”
The statement from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport also carried a joint quote from internationals Jamie Finn and Niamh Reid Burke who said: “On behalf of the Ireland players, we thank Sport Ireland for their support and look forward to doing the country proud in the remaining Euro 2021 qualifiers.”