MEP calls on Irish football authorities to return FIFA €5m

Diane Dodds MEP
Diane Dodds MEP

Diane Dodds has called on football’s governing authorities in the Republic of Ireland to pay back the five million euro it received from FIFA over the notorious Thierry Henry hand-ball incident.

The DUP MEP was speaking during a European Parliament at Strasbourg debate on corruption within FIFA – the sport’s international governing body.

The irregular payment came to light last week when the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) admitted it received the payment as a loan from FIFA in return for not protesting about the French international’s goal that dumped Ireland out of the 2010 World Cup.

During the play-off decider, Henry controlled the ball with his left hand before crossing for William Gallas to score the goal that booked France’s place in the finals in South Africa.

The wider probe into FIFA’a affairs – by both Swiss investigators and the FBI – has led to criminal proceedings over the bidding process for hosting World Cups and the resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Mrs Dodds said she welcomed the investigations.

“Everyday we read new reports of wrongdoing and what has emerged has been shocking but not altogether surprising,” she said.

“For too long FIFA has been able to dodge allegations of wrongdoing under the leadership of Sepp Blatter.

“It has become clear that the FAI received €5 million in a secret deal to buy their silence following controversy during a 2010 World Cup qualifying play-off match.

“Instead of dealing with an issue, FIFA threw money at the problem and the FAI gladly accepted this underhanded payment.”

Mrs Dodds added: “I would call upon the decision makers within the FAI to immediately pay back this money.

“Such deals take away from the good natured spirit of the game that is enjoyed by millions across the world. If they have any integrity they will do this.

“To fail to do so would be complicit in the corruption that seems at the heart at FIFA.”

When details of the payment became public knowledge last week, the FAI said its board “acted at all times in the best interests of Irish football, and in full compliance with Irish company law”

In a lengthy statement it also said: “The €5m loan was accounted for in the 2010 audited financial statements, under Bank and other Loans.

“This funding was used to make payments to New Stadium Ltd (trading name for Aviva Stadium management company) on February 25 and March 26 of 2010, totalling €6,772,711.25.”