kenny probe Footage of the 1916 Rising and historic goals against England: The video at the centre of Stephen Kenny investigation
Ireland soccer manager Stephen Kenny will be interviewed by FAI chiefs over a video featuring moments from Anglo-Irish history which was shown to players ahead of last week’s friendly against England.
An internal inquiry has been launched into what has been described as a “political” video as well as a motivational speech given to the team by Kenny.
The Sunday World understands the three-minute video included representations of the Easter Rising as well as past Irish victories over the English football team.
It’s believed that the final clip showed a mock-up of ‘1916’ on the scoreboard at Wembley Stadium. The video, shown to the players in the Wembley dressing room, was followed by a speech by Kenny.
But the Tallaght man is expected to avoid long-term damage and remain in his post for the next batch of international duty, qualifiers in March for the 2022 World Cup.
The FAI confirmed last night a probe was underway surrounding a pre-match event that took place in London ahead of the game with England. The Irish team would go on to lose 3-0 to Gareth Southgate’s men.
“The Football Association of Ireland is aware of issues surrounding content shared with our senior men’s team ahead of the recent friendly against England at Wembley Stadium. The FAI is already looking into this matter internally as a matter of urgency to establish the facts,” an FAI statement said.
It’s understood a member of the FAI backroom staff made senior officials of the association aware of his unhappiness at how the pre-match routine in Wembley was conducted.
The staff member is said to have advised Kenny against showing the video to the players but the presentation went ahead. Former interim CEO of the FAI Gary Owens, still working for the association even though Jonathan Hill has been recruited as CEO, and FAI president Gerry McAnaney were in London for the game and were alerted to the issue by the staff member who claimed that the content was “political”.
The FAI probe will include a debrief from Kenny and other members of his backroom team as well as players.
Kenny, appointed as senior manager in April, has endured a difficult spell as coach of the senior side. The team has gone without a win in eight games.
Sources close to the board insist they have an open mind on the issue, with one source claiming “it does not look like a hanging offence but we need to see the detail of our own internal report and assess what was said”.
Fianna Fáil Senator Shane Cassells, a member of the Oireachtas Sport committee, called on the FAI to bring clarity to the situation quickly.
“In fairness what goes on in a dressing room is sacrosanct but given the sensitivity that has historically surrounded this fixture it would be helpful for the FAI to bring clarity to the story and not cause further bad blood,” he said.
Kenny is contracted to the FAI until the end of the 2022 World Cup campaign but faces a battle to qualify for the finals as the Republic have slipped to third seeds for a draw, to be held next month. Only one team from each of the 10 groups qualifies automatically.