JOHN Delaney has confirmed the Football Association of Ireland 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’ 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 five million euros.
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 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.
“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.
“You’ve put a figure out there and fair play to you. 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.”
Ireland turned in arguably their best performance under former boss 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’ late equaliser broke Irish hearts with television replays clearly showing Henry’s offence, for which he later apologised.
France failed to make it out of their group in South Africa, taking just a point from their three first round games.