FAI CHIEF executive John Delaney has defended his controversial behaviour in Poland at Euro 2012 by claiming that he's "entitled to a night out."
There has been a negative reaction among a large section of the football community in Ireland to the online footage from Poland which has emerged of Delaney celebrating with Irish fans.
Labour TD Aodhán O Riordáin has questioned Delaney's behaviour while Jim McGlone, chairman of Monaghan United - who quit the League of Ireland last week - has become the first football official to comment on the CEO, saying: "There would be serious disquiet, not only within the Airtricity League, but within football in general over his behaviour."
But in a lengthy interview with the Sunday Independent, Delaney defended himself from the charges. "I take kind of a grave offence to some of those criticisms, because I set out seven months ago when we qualified with my professional team to ensure that there was not going to be a repeat of Saipan, that the shadow of Saipan would leave the association and that's been achieved," Delaney said.
"Every morning we had a meeting at 9am when we were away in Montecatini, in Hungary and in Poland. We did our stuff really well. I met with Robbie Keane and Trapattoni every three or four days and we went through all the issues. We worked very, very hard.
"And if I had a night out, with family, my sister was over there, my brother-in-law and some friends, I think that's something I'm entitled to do on the odd occasion when I'm there. I've seen journalists more than disheveled on occasions and I've seen people who believe they have a more credible life a lot more dishevelled.
"What happened one evening on the way home to the hotel was a couple of hundred fans raised me up in the air and they carried me head-high home. Now if that's a crime, I'm not guilty. Trust me," he said.
Delaney also defended his habit of going onto the pitch to celebrate with supporters after games, as he has done in places like Moscow, Skopje and Tallinn.
"That's to thank the supporters. I don't see the ceremonial duty as something I should do. On occasion I've gone out to thank the supporters because they spent a lot of money following Ireland around the world and I think that should be recognised on occasion, I really do."