The Irish Football Association confirmed on Thursday it received a payoff from Fifa following Thierry Henry’s infamous 2009 handball during the Paris play-offs for the 2010 World Cup.
The incident, and subsequent goal by William Gallas, led to the Republic of Ireland missing out on the showpiece event in South Africa. According to FAI Chief Executive John Delaney, the payment, reportedly 5 million euros, was made in exchange for not pursuing legal action against Fifa.
The settlement, described by Delaney on RTE as a “good and legitimate deal,” was reached after the FAI chief exchanged words with Fifa President Sepp Blatter over his handling of the incident in the aftermath of the match.
Delaney said: “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 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 and 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, but I’m bound by confidentiality for naming the figure,” he added.
Delaney refused to confirm the amount of 5 million euros put forward by the RTE presenter, saying: “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. You used a figure there, well done to you, but it was a very good and legitimate deal for the FAI.”
The latest revelation follows the arrest of 14 Fifa officials on indictments of corruption from the US Department of Justice last week. Blatter was re-elected to the role of President, but resigned days later amid rumours of a widening FBI investigation into alleged wrongdoing, with Blatter himself possibly under scrutiny.
On Wednesday, court papers filed in New York revealed that former Fifa official Chuck Blazer took payments in connection with allocating hosting for the 1998 and 2010 World Cups.
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