The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has issued a strong rebuttal to claims in an Argentinian newspaper that Republic of Ireland players were paid $10,000 each to not injure Lionel Messi during a 2010 friendly against Argentina.
A story in La Nacion claimed that former head of the Argentina Football Association Julio Grondona – who died in July 2014 – suggested making payments to the Irish players as they could not afford to stump up the Barcelona superstar’s insurance should he have picked up an injury.
It is also alleged that Argentina suggested playing the match to FIFA as a way of alleviating Ireland’s grievances over losing a World Cup play-off to France, in which Thierry Henry famously handballed in the build-up to William Gallas’ winner.
Messi played 58 minutes of the contest in August 2010 that marked Ireland’s first international game at the Aviva Stadium, with Angel di Maria scoring the only goal in Dublin.
The FAI deny the accusations and are considering the possibility of legal action.
“The Football Association of Ireland completely refutes the allegations made about the Republic of Ireland v Argentina friendly match in La Nacion as baseless,” read an FAI statement.
“The match in question was organised by Kentaro and announced by press release prior to the World Cup play-offs in 2009.
“We are consulting our legal advisers in relation to the article, and will be taking further steps.”
Earlier this month it was revealed that the FAI was paid a €5m interest-free loan by FIFA as compensation after they missed out on the 2010 World Cup, with the payment used to help cover the cost of the redevelopment of the Aviva Stadium.