Europe

Fifa payment to FAI: Irish PM Enda Kenny calls for answers

France striker Thierry Henry Image copyright EPA
Image caption France striker Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up to the goal which ended the Republic of Ireland's hopes of reaching the 2010 World Cup

The Irish prime minister has urged the chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to explain a multi-million euro sum it was paid by Fifa to prevent a legal battle.

Football's world governing body said on Thursday that it paid the FAI 5m euros (£3.6m) after France controversially beat Ireland in a World Cup play-off.

FAI boss John Delaney said a deal was made to drop a claim against Fifa.

Mr Kenny said the payment, agreed in 2010, was "quite extraordinary".

Fifa is facing criminal investigations after allegations of "systemic and deep-rooted" corruption within the organisation, and its president Sepp Blatter is stepping down.

Mr Delaney said on Thursday that he had believed the FAI had a case against Fifa after French striker Thierry Henry's handball in the build-up to a decisive goal in the 2009 match in Paris which caused Ireland to miss the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

A Fifa spokesman confirmed it had "entered into an agreement with FAI in order to put an end to any claims" against it.

Tenable

The fall-out has now spilled over into a summit of Ireland's cross-border peace-building North South Ministerial Council in Dublin, where Mr Kenny called on the head of Irish football to shed light on the payment.

The taoiseach (Irish prime minister) said: "I would say that any questions that need to be answered here in the interests of transparency and accountability... John Delaney should answer and will answer all of those questions, I'm quite sure."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Enda Kenny said he believed FAI chief John Delaney's position remained "tenable"

Mr Kenny added that he believed the FAI chief's position remained "tenable".

The Irish sports minister Paschal Donohoe said he had spoken with Mr Delaney and pressed him to bring "clarity and certainty" to the matter.

"It is a significant amount of money, it is obviously something that the country does have a lot of interest in," Mr Donohoe said.

"It is in everybody's interest that these matters be cleared up."

He said he was "absolutely not aware" of any such payment and would be surprised if any of his predecessors knew about it.

Former Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce said he was "astounded" by the revelation and the FAI's payment should be investigated.

On Friday, the Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane refused to comment on the payment.

"Not today, I'm not in the mood for all that stuff today," he said when asked about the controversy.

But when asked whether Mr Delaney was "a distraction" to the national team's on-field matters, he joked: "Isn't he always?"

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