FIFA has claimed that a payment of $5 million made to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) following their controversial loss in the 2010 World Cup play-offs was a loan for the construction of a stadium.
FAI chief executive John Delaney revealed earlier on Thursday that world football’s governing body had paid compensation to prevent legal action after a handball from Thierry Henry prevented Ireland from qualifying for the World Cup in South Africa.
France forward Henry clearly handled the ball twice in the build-up to William Gallas’ extra-time equaliser in the second leg of the qualifying play-off with Ireland in November 2009.
That goal sent France through 2-1 on aggregate, with Ireland’s subsequent pleas for the game to be replayed falling on deaf ears.
The revelations have come amid a corruption scandal that has rocked FIFA and two days after president Sepp Blatter announced his intention to step down.
A FIFA statement read: “On 18 November 2009, there was a play-off match between France and the Republic of Ireland for a place in the 2010 World Cup finals.
“During the match, a handball by France’s Thierry Henry led indirectly to a goal against the Irish team. Ireland did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals.
“While the referee’s decision is final, and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) ultimately accepted it as such, in January 2010 FIFA entered into an agreement with FAI in order to put an end to any claims against FIFA.
“FIFA granted FAI a loan of $5 million for the construction of a stadium in Ireland. At the same time, UEFA also granted the FAI funds for the same stadium.
“The terms agreed between FIFA and the FAI were that the loan would be reimbursed if Ireland qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“Ireland did not so qualify. Because of this, and in view of the FAI’s financial situation, FIFA decided to write off the loan as per 31 December 2014.”
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