The Chief executive of the FAI John Delaney has confirmed that soccer’s world governing body FIFA made a direct payment to the FAI so the association would not take legal action regarding Thierry Henry’s infamous handball in the 2010 World Cup play-off with France.
Mr Delaney confirmed the news on RTE’s Radio 1 this morning. The payment is thought to be in the region of €5 million, Delaney said: “We felt we had a legal case against FIFA because of how the World Cup play-off hadn’t worked out for us with the Henry handball.” The infamous incident occurred in the 2010 play-off against France, when Henry deliberately handled the ball to setup France’s extra-time equaliser scored by William Gallas against Ireland in the World Cup play-off in November 2009. The goal made all the difference as the 1-1 result sent France to the finals in South Africa in 2010 after they won the first leg in Dublin 1-0 giving the French a 2-1 aggregate victory on the night.
The FAI subsequently appealed to make the Republic Of Ireland a “33rd team” at the finals an idea that was publicly dismissed by Sepp Blatter.
Delaney went onto criticise Blatter saying: “Also the way Blatter behaved, if you remember on stage, having a snigger and having a laugh at us. That day when I went in, and I told him how I felt about him, there were some expletives used. We came to an agreement. “That was a Thursday and on Monday the agreement was all signed and all done. It’s a very good agreement for the FAI and a very legitimate agreement for the FAI. I’m bound by confidentiality from naming the figure.” He added: “You’ve put a figure out there and fair play to you. It was a payment to the association to not proceed with a legal case. In there they put in a confidentiality agreement where I can’t talk about the amount involved.
When he was asked if he was offered a bribe Delaney categorically denied the claim, saying whilst laughing: “No, no. Not on my salary!”