Irish soccer exec: FIFA paid to prevent legal action after Henry handball

Thursday June 4th, 2015

FIFA paid the Football Association of Ireland €5 million to prevent legal action after Thierry Henry's uncalled handball prevented Ireland from reaching the 2010 World Cup, FAI announced in a statement on Thursday.

The payment was originally said to be $5 million, but FIFA issued a correction on Friday. 

FAI president John Delaney previously told RTE about the settlement on Thursday. 

The Henry handball, in a 2009 qualifier, resulted in a goal that lifted France over Ireland, ending Ireland's hopes of playing the following year's World Cup.

In its statement, FAI said the settlement “was reached following strong legal advice given to the Association regarding the case against FIFA, and was a legitimate payment that enabled the Association to put €5m into the Aviva stadium project.”

FIFA released a statement Thursday saying that the $5 million payment was a loan, intended for Ireland to build a new stadium. According to the statement, Ireland was only required to pay back the loan if it qualified for the 2014 World Cup, which it did not.

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Here's Delaney, speaking to RTE, on what he called a "very good and legitimate deal" for the FAI.

“We felt we had a legal case against FIFA because of how the World Cup play-off hadn’t worked out for us with the Henry handball,” Delaney said. “Also the way [Sepp] Blatter behaved, if you remember on stage, having a snigger and having a laugh at us. That day when I went in, and I told him how I felt about him, there were some expletives used and we came to an agreement.

“That was a Thursday and on Monday the agreement was all signed and all done. It’s a very good agreement for the FAI and a very legitimate agreement for the FAI, but I’m bound by confidentiality for naming the figure.”

Last week, 14 FIFA officials and associates were indicted on corruption charges stemming from more than $150 million of bribes. FIFA president Sepp Blatter resigned on Tuesday.

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- Alex Putterman


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