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Stephen Kenny's job safe as senior players and staff back Ireland boss in video investigation

An FAI statement confirmed that the Republic of Ireland manager has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Stephen Kenny pictured at Wembley ahead of Ireland's recent friendly against England.
Stephen Kenny pictured at Wembley ahead of Ireland's recent friendly against England.

Updated Nov 22nd 2020, 9:30 PM

STEPHEN KENNY WILL remain as manager of the Republic of Ireland for next year’s World Cup qualifying campaign after being cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal FAI investigation over a supposed ‘anti-English’ video.

A statement from the association released on Sunday evening confirmed that the Dubliner will face no sanction for his choice of pre-match preparation prior to the friendly with England earlier this month.

“Earlier this week issues regarding content shared with the senior Ireland men’s team ahead of the recent friendly against England at Wembley Stadium were brought to the attention of the FAI,” began the statement.

“Following this development, the FAI decided it was appropriate to look into the matter. Since then the FAI has had discussions with a number of staff members and players, including the team manager, Stephen Kenny.

“The Board has accepted the explanations provided and considers that the matter is now closed.”

It is believed that captain Seamus Coleman and vice-captain Shane Duffy both voiced their support for Kenny over the matter, with other senior players such as Robbie Brady firmly in his corner.

Kenny had a motivational video put together with historical clips of the Great Famine, 1916 Rising and Proclamation of Independence, followed by Ray Houghton’s famous goal against England at Euro 88 and David Kelly’s strike at Lansdowne Road in 1995, prior to that game being abandoned because of English hooligans.

There was a mock-up of ‘1916’ on the Wembley scoreboard at the end, followed by an impassioned speech by the Ireland boss in which it can be confirmed Kenny made it clear that he was not anti-English, but felt it was important for the players to understand the significance of the history and the fixture, as well as what the rivalry means.

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Former interim chief executive Gary Owens, who has been retained by the FAI on a temporary advisory basis while the incoming CEO Jonathan Hill works remotely from London due to Covid-19 restrictions, met Kenny for a one-on-one meeting on Friday to hear his side of the matter, and also spoke with assistant manager Keith Andrews, as well as coach Damien Duff.

Senior players were canvassed over the weekend, while goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly is also understood to have been spoken to after he expressed concerns about the video to Kenny prior to it being shown.

Kelly also angrily denied claims he was the leak of the initial story earlier this week when he released a personal statement on social media over the weekend.

While the Ireland boss was described as ‘calm and relaxed’ during his one-on-one meeting with Owens, it’s understood that senior members of his coaching staff made clear their support for the manager in the strongest terms.

The matter is now at an end, with Kenny’s focus able to turn to the World Cup qualifying draw next month.

- Originally published at 20:30; updated with FAI statement at 21:30

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