FAI chief executive John Delaney has confirmed that Ireland received a compensation payment from FIFA after the Thierry Henry handball in the World Cup play-off with France.
Asked on RTÉ Radio 1 about the payment, 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.”
Henry handled the ball in the build-up to their extra-time equaliser against Ireland in the World Cup play-off in 2009. The result sent France to the finals in South Africa in 2010, while Ireland missed out.
Ireland subsequently appealed to be be added as “33rd team” at the finals – an idea that was publicly rejected by Sepp Blatter.
“Also the way Blatter behaved, if you remember on stage, having a snigger and having a laugh at us,” said Delaney. “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.”
Asked if the payment was €5 million, Delaney refused to deny the figure.
“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.
“You used a figure there, well done to you, but it was a very good and legitimate deal for the FAI.”
Delaney offered an insight into the high regard in which Blatter was held by some of the FIFA members.
“I remember being at the FIFA Congress in Morocco when the guy from East Timor, they were just brought in as a member of FIFA,” he said. “And four times in the East Timor’s president’s address, he called Blatter your excellency. He presented him with a sword of some kind.
“I turned to our Preisdent David Blood and said do you know if Blatter turned around and shoots somebody in the front row, East Timor would still probably still vote for him. That’s how he got revered. He was brilliant at it. You’ve got to give him some bit of credit, I don’t admire him at all but he was resilient, and it took a wave of momentum to finally get him stepping down. He was brilliant at dividing and conquering.”
Asked whether he had ever been offered money in connection with FIFA affairs, Delaney said he had never been offered a bribe.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Not on my salary,” he replied, before discussing the probity of Europe’s governing body UEFA.
“It’s as clean as it gets but there are three UEFA members under suspicion, the Cypriot, the Spaniard and Turkish guy, they’re under investigation as well,” he said. “But I was never in a position to award something so I was never awarding a championship or something like that.
“Look, I am paid to do a job and I know I’m paid very well, I’m very happy in the job, if anybody come up to me and offered me a bribe, I’d say, because you offered me a bribe, you’re not getting anything.