There are calls for an investigation into alleged arbitrary payments by FIFA after football’s world governing body admitted compensating Ireland after a contentious handball deprived the country of World Cup qualification.
Amid outrage over Thierry Henry’s so-called “Hand of God” leading to the decisive goal that sent France to South Africa in 2010 instead, FIFA paid the Irish FA five million euros to avoid a damaging legal case.
Britain’s outgoing FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, who is from Northern Ireland, was quoted in Irish media as saying he was ‘astounded’ by the ‘ridiculous’ payment.
“If a payment of five million 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.”
FIFA confirmed the payment, saying it was a loan to help build a stadium, and was later written off when Ireland failed to qualify for the next World Cup.
The organisation said in a statement that the agreement – which has provoked an incredulous reaction on social media – was “in order to put an end to any claims against FIFA”.
Ireland’s FA (FAI), which had previously declined to comment citing confidentiality, also explained the payment in a statement.
“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 (Sepp) Blatter behaved if you remember on stage, having a snigger at us and having a laugh at us. So that day when I went in and told him how I felt about him and there were some expletives used, we came to an agreement. It’s a very good agreement for the FAI, a very legitimate agreement for the FAI,” said the FAI’s Chief Executive John Delaney, speaking to RTE Radio 1.
The award of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa is also under the spotlight.
South African police are to investigate allegations that a ten-million dollar bribe was paid to ensure the country hosted the tournament.
A spokesman said it followed a request from an opposition party and there had been no approach from US authorities.
Ex-FIFA official Chuck Blazer has admitted in the US that he agreed to take bribes related to the bid.
Amid the daily torrent of revelations and corruption accusations, FIFA’s outgoing president tweeted that he was working hard on reforming the organisation’s structure.
Four days after being re-elected, Sepp Blatter said he would step down once his successor was chosen.