Ireland got a surprisingly small amount of hush money to shut up about Thierry Henry’s handball

The FIFA fun train keeps on chuggin’! Football Association of Ireland chief John Delaney has admitted that the FAI was paid 5 million euros to stop complaining about the Thierry Henry handball that killed Ireland’s World Cup qualification hopes in 2009.

This is troubling, but not because of the the holy roller faux-outrage over rich people passing off cash to other rich people that has encompassed the globe. What the hell is going on with the Irish economy and national esteem that a measly 5 million euros is enough hush money?

The FAI was embarking on an appeal process that could have ended with a replay of the game against France, and eventually a spot in the 2010 World Cup. This pocket change was enough to kill it? Irish pride and dignity can’t possibly come that cheap. Sepp Blatter played Delaney, or whichever Irish official accepted that insulting amount, for suckers, and they took it. FIFA was handing Jack Warner bigger checks than this for imaginary youth camps in Trinidad. Do better, Ireland.

To further support the idea that Sepp Blatter thinks John Delaney is a chump, here’s an anecdote from the FAI chief about the time Uncle Sepp met his significant other.


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In the same interview, Delaney claims to have had this exchange with Blatter:

“In 2009 I called him an embarrassment to FIFA and to himself. He called me over about that, across the table like I am talking to you, with one or two expletives. That was in a room. He said, ‘No-one speaks to me like that’, and I said, ‘well I do’ and that was that.”

You tell ’em, John! I don’t believe you at all, but you tell ’em! It’s hard to take tough talk seriously from the leader of a federation that sold out the hopes and dreams of an entire country for the low price of about one year of Thierry Henry’s salary with Red Bull New York.

For the record, Delaney has denied that he had anything to do with brokering a deal to end Ireland’s appeal. The validity of that statement is of less importance to me than the idea that the good people of Ireland’s soccer dream ship is being captained by a wet noodle.