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Audit of scandal-hit Irish governing body referred to police

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By Reuters

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s government referred a state-commissioned independent audit of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to police on Wednesday, one of a number of probes into the national soccer body’s finances and corporate governance practices.

The FAI has been hit by a series of scandals since it acknowledged this year that it had broken state funding rules by failing to tell authorities about a short-term loan made to it by former chief executive John Delaney to deal with cash flow issues in 2017.

Sport Ireland, the state-funded coordination body, appointed accountants to carry out the forensic audit in May, a month after it suspended state funding for soccer over the FAI’s failure to comply with grant approval terms.

The auditors were asked to assess financial controls within the FAI, its overall financial position, fitness to handle public funds and the existence and effectiveness of the governing body’s financial policies and procedures.

Sport Ireland Chief Executive John Treacy said in July that the full picture of the FAI’s corporate governance would not emerge for a number of months but that he did not believe it would reflect very well on the association.

Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross will not publish nor comment on the findings of the report, his department said in a statement after it referred the audit to police.

Delaney, who had led the association since 2005 and remains a member of the executive committee of European soccer’s ruling body UEFA, left the FAI completely in September after being on gardening leave for months.

Ireland’s state corporate watchdog began legal proceedings against the FAI in May and the governing body’s own auditors said the 98-year-old association’s accounts were not being properly kept, contravening two sections of Irish company law.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Ed Osmond)