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Thursday 21 November 2019

Mooney says FAI is setting the standards

Mooney did not speak to the media but instead gave a 17-minute long interview to the FAI's in-house TV outlet. Pic: Sportsfile
Mooney did not speak to the media but instead gave a 17-minute long interview to the FAI's in-house TV outlet. Pic: Sportsfile

Play down the problems, talk up the achievements.

That's been a foundation of FAI policy for a long, long time now and even as the embattled association tries to emerge from the biggest crisis in its history, the song remains the same.

Former FAI employee Noel Mooney, who is moving back to that body on secondment from his current employers in UEFA on a short-term contract in a bid to steady the ship, has spoken for the first time since his appointment in a new role as "General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships".

Well, when we say spoken, we mean in a limited way. Mooney did not speak to the media but instead gave a 17-minute long interview to the FAI's in-house TV outlet.

As with Fran Gavin's encounter with soccer reporters last week, the theme was the same: the FAI have taken a bit of a battering in the last few weeks but there's a lot of good work, an awful lot of good work, being done, just trust us and we'll get through this.

Gavin said last week that "the FAI has been a steady ship for a long time and suddenly the ship has been rocked", an understatement if ever there was one.

And Mooney was on message as well in that in-house video.

Eyebrows will be raised across the nation today when people who care about the game here, and are distressed at how the FAI have sunk in terms of public image, read what Mooney had to say.

"The FAI has many faces, in many areas it does tremendous work across an array of areas.The FAI would be held up in some areas as a barometer for other federations, for community development," Mooney said.

"If the eastern federations had the same approach to it as the FAI, European football would be a much better place. We have huge countries, like Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, that would be far behind the FAI in terms of developing the sport at grassroots level.

"So the FAI can in many ways be seen as a leading federation in UEFA, that's for sure. And it's just a shame that the things that have happened have cast a shadow on the really good work of the FAI."

Saying it's a "shame" that there is a shadow over the FAI suggests that Mooney has not quite got to grips with his brief, or else is not not willing to speak about it.

Twice in his FAI TV interview, Mooney was asked about his appearance at the 2017 FAI AGM, where he lauded John Delaney's contribution to the game here.

He said it was the norm for him in his UEFA role to "visit the annual congress of football federations, make a speech on behalf of UEFA and be complimentary of the association when we do speak to them".

If Noel Mooney really thinks that the FAI are a "barometer" for others, we are in deep trouble.

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