FAI boss John Delaney does not support calls for a World Cup boycott following Sepp Blatter’s re-election as Fifa president.
Speaking in Zurich after the vote, Delaney said: “Well there’s been loose talk of that but it wouldn’t really be my way of doing things. Pulling out of World Cups is not something you should do because you don’t like the person running the organisation.
“But I think there’ll a lot of talk and a lot of discussion will take place, and a lot of people will look to Uefa as to what its stance will be going forward. Because Michel Platini, the president of Uefa, has made it very clear that he asked Blatter to step down.
"And David Gill, who is on the board of Uefa and was recently elected to the board of Fifa, has said he won’t serve with Blatter. So I don’t think the story is over at all. He’s won his victory — not a huge victory, a decent victory — but also a victory that he’ll be a bit worried about. And there’s more to come.
“I still think this is the beginning of the end of Sepp Blatter. I don’t see him seeing his four years out — the momentum is too great.
“We have to see how best we can use the European muscle. We also need to go on a charm offensive with Africa and Asia.
“There’s a number of things that can happen,” the FAI chief told RTÉ Radio. “The FBI investigations and the investigations in Switzerland will continue. Blatter admitted himself that there will be more to come, and God knows what that will unearth. There’ll be a meeting of Uefa at the Champions League final — I won’t be there because we’re playing England the following day — but there will be a meeting of the Uefa family to determine its strategy going forward.”
Delaney added that he was not surprised but still disappointed “for football” that Blatter “now, at the moment” is beginning a new four-year period at the helm.
“But there is strong opposition to him,” he went on. “73 votes is a lot of votes for Prince Ali of Jordan, who wasn’t that well known. He wouldn’t have been as well known as Platini (and) he started his campaign probably later in time, so it was a hell of a score to get, in my opinion, given the obstacles that he faced with the African and Asian countries always going to support Blatter.”
Meanwhile, earlier yesterday, the FAI chief executive refused to be drawn on reports that Fifa had made a €5m payment to the association following the Thierry Henry handball incident in the World Cup play-off game in Paris in 2009.
Amid a huge popular outcry, Ireland ended up missing out on the 2010 finals in South Africa and, while the FAI — who at one point floated the idea that Ireland might be afforded a 33rd place in the tournament — subsequently declined a special ‘Fair Play’ award proposed by Blatter, it was later claimed that they had accepted a financial payment from the world governing body.
Yesterday on RTÉ, Delaney conceded that there had been “an arrangement” with Fifa but, even against the backdrop all this week’s calls for transparency in the governance of the game, he insisted the details would have to remain “confidential for the moment”.
Said the FAI boss: “There was a legal case we had against Fifa at the time. There was an arrangement that was come to but it certainly wasn’t bestowing patronage to us.” Asked what the arrangement was, he replied: “That is confidential for the moment but what I will say is that at no stage have we ever voted in favour of Blatter. We have been consistent in that all through and I have as well. That is the bottom end of it.” Delaney also defended the FAI’s record on transparency. “We’ve got a very open approach to the game,” he said. “The members are very happy with how we run the game of football. We have an AGM every year, our accounts are given to the public, our members. I don’t know what more we can do, in terms of being open and transparent. Our members are very happy with the way the association is being ran.
“We have developed the game extraordinarily well over the last 10 or 12 years. 450,000 people play football on a weekly basis in our country so I think we do a very good job in developing the game in a very open way.”
On his own future at the helm of the FAI, Delaney commented:
“I’m contracted until 2020. We are bringing the Euros to Dublin in 2020. We are one of the 13 countries to host it. I’m looking forward to that. Then I’ll reassess my own career. I’m very happy in my personal life, I’ve made that clear recently. Any decision I make, I’ll make on a joint-basis. There is two things you decide in your life. One is, do the members want you to stay and, two, do you still have the same energy to continue? That is something for 2020. It is not for the events of today.”
Back at home, Delaney and the FAI are facing fresh criticism from Irish fans who last year were promised clarification on new match ticketing procedures after a number of long-time travelling supporters were unable to attend last November’s Euro qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow. Now, with the return game coming up in Dublin in two weeks’ time, the YouBoysInGreen supporters group has issued a statement complaining that they continue to be left in the dark.
“Many fans who were forced to miss the corresponding fixture in Glasgow in November 2014 have yet to receive any update on the new ticket process, Fans Direct,” they say. “Supporters have now been waiting more than six months for an update on a scheme which was announced to much fanfare in November 2014.
“YBIG site users are unaware of any stakeholders meetings which have been held in order to consider and address the concerns of independent supporters. This is highly puzzling given the scheme was announced to specifically address the concerns raised by these supporters. We urge the FAI to engage with independent supporters and publish the full details of Fans Direct as a matter of urgency to allow supporters to fully consider the proposed future ticketing policy.
“A clear and transparent ticketing process will help to ensure there is no repeat of the fiasco which ensued in October 2014.”
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