Sport FAI publish proof that Fifa paid them €5m over Thierry Henry handball

FAI publish proof that Fifa paid them €5m over Thierry Henry handball

 FAI chief executive John Delaney
FAI chief executive John Delaney

The Football Association of Ireland has published the full contract of its previously secret deal with Fifa that saw the federation accept €5m (£3.6m) in exchange for ending protests about Ireland’s controversial loss in 2010 World Cup qualification.

The contract was published after the FAI took a barrage of criticism over its decision to abandon public protest in favour of confidential money. It details a series of meetings involving FAI chiefs and the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, following Ireland’s 2-1 loss on aggregate to France thanks, in part, to a pivotal handball by Thierry Henry that produced the winning goal.

The document, signed 15 January, 2010, by senior FAI and Fifa officials in Switzerland, guaranteed the FAI immediate delivery of €5m on strict condition that Irish officials never revealed existence of the deal. A detailed description of the events leading up to the payout released by the FAI on Friday made repeated reference to Blatter’s comments at a major soccer conference days after the game, which enraged Irish fans, as a factor in the payout.

“Sepp Blatter made a joke of the Association’s request to be the 33rd team at the World Cup … in direct breach of agreed confidentiality and subsequently brought reputational damage to the FAI,” the FAI said in a statement.

“Sepp Blatter personally apologised to the FAI delegation for the remarks,” the statement said. “After negotiation, FIFA offered the FAI a 5 million euro interest free loan by way of compensation.“

The FAI also published letters showing the money entering the association’s Dublin bank accounts five days later and being quickly deployed to reduce the association’s stadium-building debts.

The FAI also published a June 2014 letter from Fifa’s deputy secretary general, Markus Kattner, informing the Irish federation that it no longer needed to repay any of the purported loan.