Irish FA accepted $5m from FIFA over 2009 playoff loss

France's decisive goal in playoffs for the 2010 World Cup had come after a handball by Henry.

    Henry had handled the ball before passing it to Gallas who scored the equaliser [AP]
    Henry had handled the ball before passing it to Gallas who scored the equaliser [AP]

    The Irish FA (FAI) accepted a $5m payment by FIFA to avoid a legal case over a controversial World Cup playoff defeat in 2009, world football's governing body has confirmed.

    Ireland were knocked out in a two-legged playoff by France for the the 2010 South Africa World Cup, with the decisive goal in the second-leg coming after a handball by French striker Thierry Henry in extra-time.

    With moral outrage over the goal in Ireland and beyond growing, FIFA and the FAI came to a financial agreement not to proceed with legal action.

    It was a payment to the association... not to proceed with a legal case.

    John Delaney, FAI chief executive

    FIFA confirmed on Thursday that the payment was a loan that would have been paid back had Ireland qualified for the 2014 World Cup.

    "In January 2010 FIFA entered into an agreement with FAI in order to put an end to any claims against FIFA," it said in a statement.

    "FIFA granted FAI a loan of $5m for the construction of a stadium in Ireland. At the same time, UEFA also granted the FAI funds for the same stadium.

    "The terms agreed between FIFA and the FAI were that the loan would be reimbursed if Ireland qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Ireland did not qualify.

    "Because of this, and in view of the FAI's financial situation, FIFA decided to write off the loan as per 31 December 2014."

    Former Arsenal and Barcelona forward Henry stopped the ball going out of play with his hand, before crossing for William Gallas to score.

    The game in Paris in 2009 ended 1-1 after with France progressing to the World Cup 2-1 on aggregate.

    'Good agreement for the FAI'

    FAI chief executive John Delaney criticised FIFA President Sepp Blatter at the time for his handling of the incident and accused the Swiss of being "disrespectful".

    Speaking to Irish state broadcaster RTE on Thursday, Delaney said: "It was a payment to the association... not to proceed with a legal case.

    Blatter resigns

    "We felt we had a legal case against FIFA because of how the World Cup hadn't worked out because of the Thierry Henry handball, also the way Blatter behaved if you remember on stage, having a snigger, having a laugh at us.

    "So that day when I went in and told him how I felt about him... there were some expletives used, we came to an agreement... It was a very good agreement for the FAI, a very legitimate agreement for the FAI."

    FIFA is currently in the middle of the biggest crisis in football history.

    Nine FIFA officials and five business executives were indicted by the US last Wednesday on corruption charges, with seven arrested in Zurich ahead of FIFA's annual congress on Friday.

    Blatter was re-elected president for a fifth term but just four days after the appointment, he confirmed he will be stepping down. It was then reported that the FIFA boss was under investigation by the FBI.

    There have also been renewed calls for Russia and Qatar to be stripped of hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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