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'How can the FAI have jurisdiction in Serbia?' Fan quizzed over anti-Delaney flag

Zeno Kelly said was he stopped by an FAI official outside Monday’s qualifier in Belgrade.

AN IRISH FAN has claimed that an FAI official stopped and questioned him at Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Serbia to prevent him from bringing an anti-John Delaney flag into the ground.

Ahead of the Belgrade game, Zeno Kelly posted a photo on Twitter of a banner referencing Delaney’s famous remark that the League of Ireland was “a difficult child for the organisation”.

Below the quote on the banner is a picture of several Ireland players in the jerseys of their respective former League of Ireland clubs accompanied with a “Delaney Out” hashtag.

Kelly suspected he would be prevented from bringing the banner into the ground, so opted against taking it with him to the Rajko Mitic Stadium for the opening Group D qualifier.

He claimed that FAI security stopped him at the entrance to the ground and asked for the flag.

Kelly said that he was made to wait outside the stadium while others were admitted, and that after explaining that he did not have the flag, he was eventually allowed to enter.

The FAI were unavailable for comment when contacted on Wednesday afternoon.

“There’s always been issues (with protests) in the south stand in Lansdowne so they’re now using those tactics away from home as well,” Kelly told The42.

“But I don’t understand how the FAI can have jurisdiction in Serbia. It was hosted by the Serbian FA. It wasn’t hosted by the FAI.

“What’s next, is he going to search our phones and wallets in Moldova?

“Based on that experience on Monday, he could very easily not let me in, or not allow someone else in next month.

“I’m probably going to go to my TD when I get home. An Irish fan in a foreign country shouldn’t be searched for his property where the FAI have no jurisdiction whatsoever.”

It is not the first time that there has been controversy relating to Irish fans’ protests against the organisation.

There have been a number of issues in the past, most notably during the November 2014 friendly at the Aviva Stadium against the USA.

After that game, Republic of Ireland supporters group You Boys in Green (YBIG) released a statement expressing surprise at the manner in which a protest was handled.

The supporters group, who have been consistently vocal in their opposition towards the FAI, released a statement at the time, which read:

“It must be noted that the section had never been involved in any behaviour that attracted Garda presence in the past. This level of security was specifically targeted at this section, and was not replicated around the ground.

“The FAI confiscated banners before and during the game, despite these being fully compliant with all ground rules and regulations.

“In addition, in an attempt to remove banners being displayed in Section 114, stewards manhandled supporters. In no way do banners such as ‘#supportdoesntwork’ and ‘Fans After Income’ create any risk to crowd safety.

“What have the FAI got to hide, and why did they feel the need to spectacularly overreact to a peaceful and good-natured protest?”

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Paul Fennessy

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