Report: FIFA Gave Football Association of Ireland 5 million Euros to Not Sue over Henry Handball

In a final round playoff qualifying match between the Republic of Ireland and France for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in extra time, Thierry Henry hit the ball with his hand to his foot and passed it to the head of his teammate, William Gallas for the eventual game winning score. It was the second leg of the playoff, and was a typically Irish performance. They'd lost the first leg in Dublin by a score of 1-0, but had put in an incredible showing in Paris and led 1-0 on the night. The goal from Gallas came late into extra time, when the match had seemed poised for penalties. Following the clear handball, the Irish players immediately ran to the ref contending it was a hand ball but the ref missed it. With the win, France qualified for the World Cup in 2010. Fast forward to today, where it was revealed that FIFA paid the Football Association of Ireland, 5 million euros, equivalent to about 5,600,000 US dollars. According to FAI Chief Executive John Delaney, it was a bribe so that the FAI would not take any legal action towards FIFA over the match.

There are differing stories as to what actually took place between FIFA and the FAI. FIFA says, “While the referee’s decision is final and the football association of Ireland ultimately accepted it as such, in January 2010 FIFA entered into an agreement in order to end any claims against FIFA. FIFA granted FAI a loan of  $5 million for the construction of a new stadium in Ireland. At the same time UEFA also granted the FAI funds for the same stadium.”  In addition, FIFA said, “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.”  The FAI defended itself by saying, “FIFA’s settlement with the Association has at no time influenced the FAI’s criticism of FIFA as demonstrated by our consistent criticisms of Sepp Blatter. Furthermore, the settlement was made without any conditions other than confidentiality.”

According to Delaney, days after the game he confronted Sepp Blatter and said that Ireland would sue FIFA unless they were either compensated via placement into the 2010 World Cup or financially. On Irish radio, Delaney said, “We felt we had a legal case against FIFA. Also the way Blatter behaved, if you remember, on stage, having a snigger (chuckle) and having a laugh at us. So that day when I went in and told him how I felt about him, and there were some expletives used, we came to an agreement.”

This is another, not even shocking anymore, revelation about FIFA and the corruption within the organization, relating to one team losing a trip to the World Cup on a missed call by the referee and the team that lost getting paid off like a mobster would pay somebody to keep quiet. Since that date the former Arsenal, New York Red Bulls and a few other clubs striker Henry has apologized for the handball.

The handball can be seen below.