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Friday 9 December 2016

FAI denies claims of a $10k player deal not to hurt Messi

FOOTBALL

John Delaney
John Delaney
Messi at the Aviva
Messi and John O'Shea

The FAI has denied allegations that a match with Argentina was linked to the €5m Fifa pay-off following the infamous Thierry Henry handball that ended the 2010 World Cup qualification dream.

Argentinian newspaper La Nacion has alleged that the friendly was agreed as part of the deal.

It also claimed that the now-deceased head of the Argentinian FA, Julio Grondona, suggested that each of the Ireland players would be paid $10,000 not to cause an injury to star player Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian FA could not afford the $5m insurance for Messi and Grondona's solution was to allegedly pay Giovanni Trapattoni's men to ensure that Messi would get through the game unscathed, the newspaper story claimed.

It did not provide any proof of the alleged payments.

One Irish player who took part in the game, Kevin Kilbane, last night said the alleged payments to him and his teammates was "news to me" adding: "I certainly didn't take any money."

"There was no suggestion around the game that we were to stay clear of Lionel Messi and of course none of the players received any money as payment regarding this," he told TV3.

refutes

Details of the €5m Fifa Henry pay-off to the FAI emerged earlier this month with the FAI saying it was used to help fund the Aviva Stadium project. Messi took part in the first international football game at the Aviva - a 1-0 victory for the South Americans.

"The Football Association of Ireland completely refutes the allegations made about the Republic of Ireland v Argentina friendly match in La Nacion as baseless," an FAI statement said.

"The match in question was organised by (international sports agency) Kentaro and announced by press release prior to the World Cup play-offs in 2009. We are consulting our legal advisers in relation to the article, and will be taking further steps."

Grondona had been blamed by Fifa for signing off on a $10m payment from the South Africa FA to an account controlled by disgraced former official Jack Warner.

Fifa has been mired in controversy since the arrest of a number of officials as part of a US-led investigation into alleged corruption. The scandal led to the resignation of president Sepp Blatter, who denies any wrongdoing.

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