THE FAI has said that it is fully supportive of Ireland Assistant Manager Liam Brady’s withering criticism of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, even as a spokesperson for the world football governing body has confirmed what everyone already knew to be the case – Ireland will not be taking part in the World Cup finals in South Africa next summer.
Responding to Blatter’s jocular presentation at a press conference on Monday of the FAI’s bid for an extra place for Ireland at the World Cup finals, Brady yesterday described the man commonly regarded as the most powerful figure in world football as “a bit of a loose cannon” and “an embarrassment to FIFA”.
During the course of a meeting with the FIFA President in Zurich last Friday, an FAI delegation led by Chief Executive John Delaney had asked for a 33rd place at the World Cup finals to be considered in the light of the hugely controversial nature of Ireland’s play-off defeat to France.
However, Brady yesterday insisted –and the FAI have confirmed his view – that the question was designed to draw a response from FIFA on the circumstances surrounding the ‘Hand Of Gaul’ goal which has convulsed football rather than as a proposition which might actually result in Ireland being admitted to the finals in South Africa next summer.
Said Brady: “I think when we asked for that we knew there was very little chance of that happening.
“We asked because we wanted to have them respond in a measured way, and see what they had to say.
“After all Mr Blatter was responsible for the (match) official.
“He didn’t say anything about the appalling mistake the official made to miss a blatant handball.
“I think my country deserves more recognition from Blatter.”
The former Ireland midfielder was dismayed at the way in which Blatter made the FAI appeal public at a press conference, prompting laughter from his audience with which the FIFA President then joined in.
“I’m afraid Mr Blatter is a law unto himself,” Brady continued. “I thought it was very disrespectful how he presented this fact. He ignored most of the controversial things that went on that evening.
“He never had anything to say about that at all, like (Thierry) Henry’s behaviour after scoring the goal and how that stands within his campaign to have fair play within the game. Henry celebrates as if he’s done nothing wrong. Is that fair play?
“Hardly. But Mr Blatter chose to talk about the request to be considered as the 33rd team.”
Brady added: “People will be watching Mr Blatter closely and his decisions closely from now on.
“Of course England will have a lot to do with it because they’re trying to get the World Cup in 2018 and Mr Blatter will have a big say.”
Brady’s future as assistant to Giovanni Trapattoni has still to be confirmed, with word awaited on whether his employers at Arsenal are willing to allow him to extend his Irish contract to cover the forthcoming European Championship campaign.
Meanwhile, although the Irish proposal for a 33rd place is due to be one of the issues discussed at FIFA’s emergency meeting of its Executive Committee in Cape Town today, the organisation’s General Secretary has already extinguished any lingering hopes there might have been of an 11th hour World Cup reprieve for Trapattoni’s team.
Said Jerome Valcke yesterday: “I wouldn’t say it’s a nonsense but it is impossible.
“There’s no hope to give that there will be any more than 32 teams at the World Cup in South Africa.”
Valcke claimed that Blatter had already told the FAI very clearly they had no chance of success. Valcke added that there would be too many organisational problems to overcome and that other teams who felt penalised by wrong refereeing decisions could also come forward and make similar claims.
“We had 853 qualifying matches,” he said. “It’s sad that we are talking about just one game.”
The FAI will not be in attendance at today’s meeting in Cape Town but it’s understood that they expect to hear directly from FIFA after the Executive Committee has concluded its deliberations on the fall-out from the World Cup play-offs and other more wide-ranging issues of alleged corruption in the sport.
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