There have been a lot of strange bombshells dropped during the FIFA corruption scandal, but this one might be weirder than Chuck Blazer having an apartment for his cats. Ireland FA chief executive John Delaney says he got paid off to not protest his team getting dumped out of 2010 World Cup qualifying.
John Delaney confirms that FIFA paid FAI €5 million in 2009 after the Thierry Henry handball so they wouldn't proceed with a legal case.— Daniel McDonnell (@McDonnellDan) June 4, 2015
There are a lot of things wrong with this.
First of all, Ireland were really huge babies about what happened. It sucked to lose on not only one bad call, but a series of them -- Thierry Henry was offside, then handballed twice, before assisting France's winning goal in the World Cup qualifying playoff -- but their reaction was insane. They claimed that FIFA had a moral obligation to grant them a replay, as if they were the first team to ever lose a big game due to a terrible error by officials. They'd start a legal case over that? It doesn't make any sense.
So maybe they thought the official had been paid off, and the match was fixed. If that was the case, Martin Hansson -- who has never been seriously accused of any wrongdoing -- would have been the worst match-fixing referee ever. If you're trying to fix a game, you give a penalty on a 50-50 challenge, which legitimate referees screw up on a weekly basis. You don't wait for a handball, after which Henry still had to control the ball and make a pass, and William Gallas still had to finish.
Also, why would Delaney admit this? He's not under investigation for corruption as far as we know, but he might be after admitting this in public. Why would someone who still runs his country's football association admit to taking a bribe in order to stop fighting for what he thought was fair? What is he thinking?
It's also incredible that FIFA would do this considering that the game didn't play out like you would expect if it were fixed, and even if it was, it's unlikely that FIFA executives would do the fixing themselves. They just had so much money and so little time for dissenters that they were willing to write a €5 million check just to get someone to shut up. Oliver Kay summed it up nicely.
That Fifa/FAI compensation story was long rumoured. I never believed it. Didn't think Fifa stupid enough to set that precedent. I was wrong.— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) June 4, 2015
The lesson: almost everyone who attains a high level position in the world of international soccer is almost as stupid as they are corrupt.