Fifa paid Ireland’s football association to not contest Thierry Henry’s World Cup handball, says chief

Chief executive Delaney revealed an out-of-court financial agreement was made with Sepp Blatter after France's controversial goal cost Ireland a place in World Cup finals.
France's William Gallas, second right, scores the winning goal after being set up by Thierry Henry, left, during the Fifa World Cup qualifier at the Stade de France in Paris.
France's William Gallas, second right, scores the winning goal after being set up by Thierry Henry, left, during the Fifa World Cup qualifier at the Stade de France in Paris.

John Delaney has confirmed the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) was paid millions of euros by Fifa to not contest Thierry Henry’s infamous World Cup handball through the courts.

Henry handled the ball in setting up William Gallas’s extra-time goal which ultimately sent France through to the 2010 finals in South Africa ahead of the Republic of Ireland. The incident in the second leg of their play-off, which finished 1-1 to give France a 2-1 aggregate win, was not spotted by Swedish referee Martin Hansson and left the FAI fuming.

Chief executive Delaney has revealed he made his feelings known in a no-holds-barred exchange with Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who announced this week he will step down, and the outcome was a financial agreement between the two parties. Reports last year claimed the payment was €5 million (Dh20.6m).

Delaney told RTE Radio 1: “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.

“Also the way Blatter behaved, if you remember on stage, 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.

“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 for naming the figure.”

He added: “It was a payment to the association to not proceed with a legal case. In there, they signed a confidentiality agreement where I can’t talk about the amount involved ... but it was a very good and legitimate deal for the FAI.”

Ireland turned in arguably their best performance under former coach Giovanni Trapattoni at the Stade de France and were brimming with confidence when Robbie Keane’s 33rd-minute strike cancelled out a first-leg deficit.

However, Gallas’s late equaliser broke Irish hearts with television replays clearly showing Henry’s offence, for which he later apologised.

The Fifa corruption scandal escalated farther on Thursday as one suspect told of World Cup bribes and another promised to reveal an “avalanche” of secrets, including about Blatter.

The storm spread around the globe with South African police opening an investigation into claims that money was paid to secure the 2010 World Cup.

Following the shock resignation of Blatter, focus has shifted to the US investigation which led to seven Fifa officials being arrested last week in Zurich.

Evidence given by Chuck Blazer to US investigators told of attempts to buy the 1998 and 2010 World Cups hosted by France and South Africa respectively.

The disgraced former North American football chief said in testimony released by prosecutors that Fifa executives conspired to accept bribes during bidding for the 1998 and 2010 events.

South African officials have angrily denied allegations by US investigators that they paid US$10m (Dh36.8m) in bribes in 2008 to secure the rights.

The money allegedly went to Jack Warner, a former Fifa vice-president and another former Concacaf head. He was suspended by the world body in 2011 for corruption.

Warner promised Wednesday in his native Trinidad and Tobago to tell an “avalanche” of secrets and said he had a file which “deals with my knowledge of international transactions at Fifa, including its president Mr Sepp Blatter” and “Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister”.

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Published: June 4, 2015 04:00 AM

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