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FAI involved in latest Fifa scandal after payment revealed

John Delaney - FAI chief executive - says the $5 million was "a very good agreement for the FAI"
Ryan McCann

Fifa has issued a statement saying it paid $5 million to the FAI in January 2010 in order to stop any Irish legal action over the Thierry Henry handball incident, while departing Fifa president Sepp Blatter continues to press forward with his plans for reform within the damaged organisation despite calls for him to have no further involvement.

The infamous handball incident led to France defender William Gallas scoring the goal that ultimately eliminated Ireland in the head-to-head play-off for a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Ireland appealed to be made a "33rd team" at the World Cup and although the motion was rejected, Delaney was unhappy by Blatter’s public dismissal.

"The way 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. We came to an agreement," he said.

"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. I’m bound by confidentiality from naming the figure."

While FIFA described the money as "a loan", it has been revealed that the sum was subsequently written off last year.

"Belfast native Jim Boyce, meanwhile, who stepped down as Fifa vice-president last week, labelled the payment "ridiculous" and said there should be a full investigation into such "arbitrary" payments.

"I'm absolutely astounded - I have never heard anything as ridiculous in my life,” he said.

“If a payment of 5million [dollars] has been paid because of a handball and threatened legal action then I hope a full investigation will be carried out into this and any other such arbitrary payments."

Just four days after being re-elected into his post as Fifa president, Blatter announced on Tuesday he would be standing down in the wake of bribery and corruption charges which have brought the world governing body to its knees in the last few days.

However, in his announcement, he pledged to stay on until a new successor was elected - not likely until December at the earliest - in order to drive "far-reaching, fundamental reforms".

That statement was greeted with contempt by critics in a week which has seen 14 officials indicted by the US Department of Justice on racketeering and money-laundering charges.

But, true to form, Blatter has ignored them and held a meeting with Domenico Scala, independent chairman of the audit and compliance committee.

"I had a good, constructive meeting with Mr [Domenico] Scala [independent chairman of the audit and compliance committee] to establish a framework for action and a timetable. I am pleased to take advice and guidance from Mr Scala," said Blatter in a statement.

"I want a comprehensive programme of reform and I am very aware that only the Fifa Congress can pass these reforms.

"Furthermore, the executive committee has a particular duty to share the responsibility of driving this process."

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