Mick Wallace pleads for Fifa assistance to protect Irish football

Wallace is concerned about “external influence” at the FAI
Mick Wallace pleads for Fifa assistance to protect Irish football

The founder of League of Ireland club Wexford Youths, now an MEP, fears the FAI “are going from one disaster into another that can be potentially far worse for the sport”. Photo: Mary Browne

Mick Wallace has pleaded with Fifa president Gianni Infantino to protect Irish football from what he has referred to as “external influence”.

The founder of League of Ireland club Wexford Youths, now an MEP, fears the FAI “are going from one disaster into another that can be potentially far worse for the sport”.

Despite State ministers yesterday telling FAI board members that the terms of the Memo of Understanding (MoU) are immovable, dissent among rank and file is intensifying.

FAI head of operations Rea Walshe has accepted a request from members to host a special council meeting within two weeks.

Wallace, on behalf of his club, was one of the 47 signatories from 79 council members seeking the summit. At issue is a clause in the MoU altering the board structure giving ultimate power to independent directors.

Delegates had agreed last July to introduce four new external board members, but new chairman Roy Barrett changed it to six in January when brokering the State bailout with then sports minister Shane Ross.

The independent chairman, if the changes are ratified at ab FAI EGM next month, would have the casting vote on all major decisions. Fifa has strict statutes barring government interference.

Wallace wrote: “Surely, Fifa cannot sit idly by allowing the Government and the civil servants to have non-football people in control of the football association?

“The FAI board did not even get an opportunity to debate this significant change before it was signed by Roy Barrett and Shane Ross — which is surely the opposite of the good governance we all yearn.

“At the very least, there must be an investigation by the Institute of Public Administration on this sudden change, without consultation, to an external majority vote weighted towards external independents.”

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