FAI 'urgently' investigating controversial motivational video shown ahead of Wembley clash

The association’s senior officials, led by newly-appointed chief executive Jonathan Hill, have discussed the issue
FAI 'urgently' investigating controversial motivational video shown ahead of Wembley clash

Stephen Kenny during the friendly match between England and Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium. Picture:Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The FAI are expected to issue a further statement, including clarification from manager Stephen Kenny, after confirming they are “urgently” investigating the showing of a controversial motivational video on the day of Ireland’s friendly against England.

It is understood Kenny, without a win from his eight matches at the helm, broadcast the montage to a group of 40 players and staff in the Wembley dressing-room ahead of the 3-0 defeat last Thursday.

The video touched on historical tensions between the two countries, including footage of the Easter Rising and 1916 Proclamation, blended with clips from the victories over England dating back to 1949 and 1988 along with other goal highlights from Kevin Sheedy, Niall Quinn and Shane Long.

The FAI hierarchy were only informed yesterday of some adverse reaction from non-playing personnel to the presentation, which was followed by a speech on the topic from Kenny.

The association’s senior officials, led by newly-appointed chief executive Jonathan Hill, have discussed the issue and are in talks with Kenny about how to proceed.

The board, to whom Hill ultimately reports, are to be briefed on the process and will be interested in the outcome to what is undoubtedly a sensitive and delicate subject heading into the FAI's centenary year.

The FAI, still bruised from the John Delaney era, are conscious of following all protocols is dealing with this incident, especially ensuring due process is afforded to all parties.

They have this evening issued the following statement: "The FAI is aware of issues surrounding content shared with our senior men’s team ahead of the recent friendly against England at Wembley Stadium.

“The FAI is already looking into this matter internally as a matter of urgency to establish the facts. The FAI has no further comment to make at this time," an FAI spokesman said.

It is believed the English FA are also taken aback by this development. Although the FAI facilitated at late notice the friendly when Covid-19 ruled out originally opponents New Zealand, all expenses were covered by the hosts.

Oldham-born Hill, a former commercial director at the English FA and Wembley, was involved in brokering the deal which could extend to a return fixture being arranged for Dublin once crowds are allowed inside stadia.

The prospect of that lucrative event for the cash-strapped FAI could now be jeopardised amid the fallout of this episode.

Kenny made a point in the run-up to the game of noting how Darren Randolph was the member of his current squad alive when Ireland last beat the Auld Enemy. Aaron Connolly, speaking before an injury in training ruled him out, said he never grew up dreaming of wanting to line out at Wembley.

Goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly was part of the squad last week for the friendly game against England and Nations League meeting with Wales on Sunday before opting against travelling to Dublin for the final part of the triple-header against Bulgaria.

Kenny admitted the latest Covid-19 issues in the squad, which saw James McClean and Matt Doherty return positive tests after the Wembley outing, convinced Kelly, an asthmatic, to stay in England.

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