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FAI release statement to clairfy €5m FIFA payment

NewsBy Kevin Palmer
FIFA 'paid-off' the FAI after Henry's infamous handball
FIFA 'paid-off' the FAI after Henry's infamous handball

The Football Association of Ireland have responded to FIFA's statement on the cash payment made as part of a deal to avoid legal action following Thierry Henry's infamous handball in the World Cup play-off game in 2009.

FAI chief John Delaney confirmed that a story first reported by The Sunday World several years ago was accurate earlier on Thursday, with the storm that followed forcing FIFA to explain the reason's for what they described as a "loan that was written off" and never repaid.

Now the FAI have been forced into making their own statement, which reads as follows: 

This statement is the latest twist in a story that has created headlines around the world in the last few hours, as FAI chief Delaney found himself dragged into the scandal engulfing FIFA that led to the shock resignation of the organisation's President Sepp Blatter on Monday.

Our initial story at the time suggested FIFA helped to arrange a friendly international for Ireland to help raise additional funds following the failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals.

“After the France-Ireland World Cup qualifier, I called Michel Platini and told him everything," recalled then Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni. 

"Then Blatter organised a friendly for Ireland so the revenue from that would match the sum we would’ve had if qualifying for the World Cup.

“What did I care about the money? I wanted to be in that tournament.”

Lionel Messi's Argentina were high profile visitors to the Aviva Stadium, while a game between Brazil and Ireland in London were also inked into the diary in 2010.

The FAI's deal with FIFA did not stop the organisation voting against Blatter in the last two Presidential elections, even though the Irish vote did not stop the Swiss candidate cruising to victory in 2011 and again last week.

Delaney was also among the first to applaud the news that Blatter is now on his way out of FIFA after his shock resignation last Monday.