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Fifa and Uefa 'seriously concerned' over government interference on FAI

The FAI announced that they received a joint letter from the governing bodies today.

A general view of FAI HQ in Abbotstown.
A general view of FAI HQ in Abbotstown.

FIFA AND UEFA have written to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) questioning government interference and warning that they are “seriously concerned” over comments made this week by the Minister for Sport, Shane Ross.

The FAI announced this week that Donal Conway had been nominated unopposed to continue as President ahead of the 27 July AGM, which led Minister Ross to write to Conway on Tuesday to ask him to withdraw his nomination. 

“Contrary to this commitment”, wrote Minister Ross, “you have now been effectively re-elected as President of the FAI- you have been, somewhat unexpectedly, unopposed for this position. This was a reversal of your promise to bring reform to the FAI under a new leadership.” 

A host of politicians and Sport Ireland have all also called on Conway to step away.

In a statement released by the FAI this evening, they say that the secretary general of Fifa, Fatma Samoura, and the general secretary of Uefa, Theodore Theodoridis, have come together and written a joint-communique to general manager Noel Mooney.

The European and world governing bodies mentioned “a possible suspension” for the FAI and for the Republic of Ireland international teams should they be able to prove a case of “undue influence from a third party.”

In the letter, Fifa and Uefa note that Ross requested the FAI President, Donal Conway, to “withdraw [his] nomination for re-election at the upcoming [ordinary Congress] to allow for new leadership with credible reform credentials, in the best interests of football.”

“Fifa and Uefa are seriously concerned regarding the aforementioned statement from the Minister for Sport,” the letter continues.

“In this context, we draw your attention to art. 14 par. 1 let. i), 14 par. 3 and art. 19 of the Fifa Statutes as well as to art. 7bis par. 2 and art. 9 par. 1bis let. d of the Uefa Statutes, which oblige all member associations, including the FAI, to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from any third party.

“Failure to meet these obligations may lead to sanctions as provided for in the FifaIFA Statutes and Uefa Statutes respectively, including a possible suspension, even if the third party influence was not the fault of the member association concerned. 

“In this context, we kindly request that you communicate the foregoing to the relevant authorities and keep us closely informed on further developments regarding the matter at hand. We thank you for taking note of the above.”

The FAI note that the letter will be discussed by the board of the association at its meeting tomorrow in Meath ahead of the EGM at the Dunboyne Castle Hotel.

They also state that the letter has been forwarded to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross. 

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