FAI paid millions by FIFA to stop legal case over Thierry Henry handball incident

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The stunning fallout continues at FIFA as the Irish FA revealed on Thursday that it was paid by world soccer’s governing body to not launch a legal case following an handball incident involving Theirry Henry in 2009 which prevented them qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Head of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) John Delaney revealed the stunning settlement on Irish radio station RTE, but failed to confirm the exact amount the FAI was paid by FIFA which has seen been reported as over $5 million.

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For those of you who don’t remember, Ireland drew 1-1 after extra time in the second leg of their 2010 World Cup playoff in Paris. But during extra time Henry deliberately handled the ball into the path of William Gallas who put the ball into net to make it 2-1 to the French on aggregate. The referees missed the incident and the the goal stood, knocking Ireland out of the competition and sending France to the World Cup finals in the process.

Ireland, and the entire soccer community across the globe, was incensed but the result stood despite Henry admitting he handled the ball deliberately. The FAI appealed against the awarding of the goal and ordered a replay of the second leg, something Henry also called for as he was now public enemy number one, but FIFA refused to order a replay and France went to the 2010 World Cup instead of Ireland.

And now we know why the subsequent legal proceedings were halted by the Irish. Here’s a transcript from what Delaney had to say about the incident as he insists the payment was legitimate.

“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.”

So, there you have it.

Delaney’s comments implicate both the FAI and FIFA as a whole new bombshell has been dropped on a situation which caused uproar over five years ago, and also comes at the worst possible time for FIFA as leader Sepp Blatter has announced hiss plan to resign and they are under investigation by both the FBI and Swiss authorities.

When it rains, it pours.