Irish players say Messi $10,000 bonus story is 'absolute nonsense'

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Kilbane said "nothing whatsoever" occurred in the lead up to the game
Kilbane said "nothing whatsoever" occurred in the lead up to the game

Irish international footballers have rubbished claims made in a newspaper that they were given a cash bonus to avoid injuring Lionel Messi in a friendly game.

La Nacion alleged in an article that Irish players were paid $10,000 each not to injure the Argentinian in a friendly played at Aviva Stadium before the start of the 2010-11 season.

The FAI was forced to release a statement regarding what they called 'baseless' allegations in the publication and said they will be seeking legal action. 

Several Irish players involved in the international friendly nearly five years ago have dismissed the allegations in La Nacion as 'nonsense'. 

Kevin Kilbane, who started the game, said he's never heard of anything like that before and "nothing whatsoever" occurred in the lead up to the game

"One hundred per cent, there’s nothing in that at all," said Kevin Kilbane.

"Definitely nothing. Obviously there’s the whole issue of insurance around international football but I’ve never heard of anything like that before and there was no suggestion of it to any of the players, nothing whatsoever in the lead up to the game."

La Nacion suggested Barcelona were unhappy that Messi was travelling to Ireland for the international without adequate insurance cover. The article claimed it was agreed it would be cheaper to just pay Irish players to go easy on him. 

He'd also played a friendly in China three days previous to the Dublin clash. 

It also suggested Messi seemed to go past Irish players with relative ease on the day. 

However, Irish international Keith Andrews says the allegations are 'nonsense'. 

"That’s just nonsense. It didn’t happen. I remember that game quite well and Messi was playing well within himself as you’d expect in a friendly at the start of the season.

"But it was still a proper game, one we wanted to win, and and there was no way we were given any instructions about taking it easy on anyone."

Darren O'Dea, who was on the bench for the game, also rubbished the claims. 

"It’s absolute nonsense,” O’Dea said. "I don’t have any idea where it’s come from but the players certainly didn’t get anything.

I’ve never heard of anything like this," he continued. "I’ve heard of some pretty weird things but nothing like this. There’s definitely nothing to it."

Read: FAI to seek legal action over article.