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Senator Aodhan O'Riordain addresses potential splitting of FAI

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

18:09 12 Dec 2019

Senator Aodhan O'Riordain believes a plan to split the FAI in two will have cross-party support.

The Government is to consider proposals to split the beleaguered organisation into two, which would see funding for vital initiatives safeguarded.

A number of prominent football figures including Niall Quinn and Brian Kerr are believed to be a part of discussions around the establishment of a separate body that would be supported by the State to the tune of €10 million per annum to support grassroots, community and development funding.

Speaking to Off The Ball, Senator O'Riordain stated his belief that such a move would be welcomed across the political spectrum.

"I think so," he replied to OTB's John Duggan.

"It's easy for people in opposition to criticise Ministers for not doing enough etc etc, but I think a lot of Irish people are tired of that sort of scenario.

Solutions

"They want to look at people in public life and people in politics to come up with solutions. And while the Oireachtas Committee will do what it does - it'll question the FAI board and various different people to try and find reasons for what happened - I think that people will also step up and say, 'Here's what could happen to save the situation, to save football and to make things better in the long-term'.

"So I want to work with Minister [Shane] Ross and with anybody with a football mind in Leinster House who cares enough about the game to invest in it."

Senator O'Riordain cited the investment in other sporting bodies and industries.

"Horse Racing Ireland gets a guaranteed €55 million a year. If you look at what the Dublin county board managed to achieve 20 years ago to get guaranteed ring-fenced funding for youth development of Gaelic Games in Dublin, that's the kind of thing that can happens when politics step up," he said.

"The problem with football in Ireland is it hasn't been a game that's been politically powerful. It's played in areas that aren't politically powerful, by people who I might suggest aren't as politically powerful as others.

"So I think we have to recognise that and recognise the power of the game and how important it is and come up with solutions to the situation we find ourselves in."

UEFA Concerns

He also addressed the issue of potential concerns UEFA and FIFA would have with suggestions of government interference in a sporting body under their jurisdiction.

"I think UEFA don't want to have a controversy around Irish football when they arrive here next summer for the European Championships 2020," said Senator O'Riordain.

"I don't think they want to be asked questions about the state of Irish football next summer. If we separate it out, we can't be accused of political interference in the national team or the way the elite end of the Association is run.

"If we focus our funding on grassroots, schoolboys and schoolgirls football, then those questions won't arise I'm quite sure."

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Aodhan O'Riordain FAI FIFA John Duggan Off The Ball Sport UEFA

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