Finally, some Irish players with enough balls to stick it to FIFA


10/7/2009 10:02 AM

For every John Delaney (Chief Executive of the FAI) there is a Shay Given or a Kevin Kilbane). And that is some comfort.

Last week FIFA decided to seed the European section of World Cup qualifying playoffs, thus giving the big teams with the large TV markets (France and Germany to name but two) as easy a ride as possible to the World Cup, and ensuring that these ‘money” teams had every chance of making the finals in South Africa.

I likened it the football equivalent of a government bailout to the big boys of football who couldn't win their group. But thankfully, Shay Given and Kevin Kilbane, two stalwarts of the Irish team for many years, are as outraged as the rest of us.

In an interview with The Times, both men leveled their anger at football’s world governing body.

“It’s disgusting,” Given told the Times. “I think the rules should be laid clear before any ball is kicked and then there’s no dark cloud or whatever. I think its ridiculous how they [FIFA] can make a decision now when some of the big-name nations are maybe struggling to qualify. It’s totally unfair on us smaller nations and it’s ridiculous.

”If they say that before a ball is kicked, then at least you know the picture, you know exactly where you stand. But to do it now is absolutely ridiculous.

”To do it at this stage is beyond belief," added the Manchester City goalkeeper. "I don’t know how they have got away with it or why the smaller nations like ourselves haven’t put up a bigger fight. ”All the smaller nations should try to kick up a fuss. There are people high up in delegations and maybe their countries need a hand to qualify, I don’t know.”

Kilbane agreed with his keeper.

“It’s a joke,” said the Hull City player. “If it was said at the start, I don’t think there would be a problem. We would all know we were on a level footing. They [FIFA] seem to move the goalposts, don’t they? I think it’s wrong. I really do, but there is nothing that anybody can do about it. We just have to try to focus on these two games coming up.”

Outrage, disbelief and anger. The reaction one would expect considering the decision taken.

Now, compare that with FAI Chief Executive John Delaney’s reaction when he spoke to The Daily Mail:

“I'm not too sure where that [seeded draw] will place us but we've got concentrate first on what we've got to do.

“We've got to try and beat Italy and take it to the last game. And if we end up in the play-offs, we'd have been delighted to have got to the play-offs at the start of the group and we'll take what we get.”

If that is John Delaney attempt to kick up a fuss, then beware world! It’s ironic that that the one thing that the Football Association of Ireland would be short of would be a few balls.

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