A leading member of FIFA has condemned Football Association Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney for singing a ballad about a dead IRA hunger striker.
Mr Delaney apologised for any offence he caused by singing the song Joe McDonnell after an international match last week.
However, FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, former President of the Irish Football Association, condemned Mr Delaney’s actions. Mr Boyce is second only to FIFA President Sepp Blatter in world football’s hierarchy.
“I am totally shocked and saddened that someone I have known for many years should get involved in such stupidity. This type of behaviour from the chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland has to be condemned,” Mr Boyce said.
Mr Delaney’s decision to sing the song in The Bath pub near the Aviva Stadium after Ireland’s victory over the USA last week was criticised and defended yesterday.
Mr Delaney said he does not support violence at all.
“Joe McDonnell is a song that has been sang in my presence and I have chipped in on a number of occasions in the past. When you sing a song like that, you don’t believe in every word.
“I sing a large number of songs, maybe five or six
different ones. It’s a typically Irish thing we do. We sing songs amongst our group and you expect it to be kept to the group.
“What I will say is that if the song offends anybody, of course I’m sorry,” he said.
He also said legal threats sent to a newspaper on Monday ordering it not to carry a video which showed him singing the republican ballad in a crowded pub was a “misunderstanding”.
“During the day (Monday), I was travelling back with my partner from abroad and
trying to deal primarily with the serious cyber-bullying issues facing her.
“I now understand that while I was travelling and un-contactable there was some confusion through a third party,” he said.
Mr Delaney added that such songs, about IRA members, have been part of the Irish football team for many years.
The rebel song incident occurred on the same night that England football manager Roy Hodgson apologised “if anyone was offended” by the singing of anti-IRA songs by English fans at Celtic Park in Glasgow.
Both England and Scotland are due to play against Ireland in Dublin next June.
Among the people to publicly support Mr Delaney yesterday was Irish soccer legend Paul McGrath, who tweeted: “I’m behind John Delaney 100pc. Lucky there was no video phones when we were playing football and singing on the coaches.”