FAI respond strongly to bizarre claims in Argentina that Irish players were paid $10k to go easy on Lionel Messi
Nothing to see here, move along
The FAI has reacted strongly to an article in the Argentine newspaper La Nacion that suggested that disgraced and deceased Fifa official Julio Grondona arranged for Lionel Messi and Co to be the first team to play at the redeveloped Aviva Stadium in 2010 as extra kicker to the hugely controversial €5m package Fifa paid the FAI in the wake of the Thierry Henry handball.
The article also claimed that Grondona boasted of paying the Irish players $10,000 a man to go easy on Lionel Messi in the fixture.
This prompted the FAI to release a statement which claims the fixture was arranged long before Henry's handball in Paris in November 2009.
The Football Association of Ireland completely refutes the allegations made about the Republic of Ireland v Argentina friendly match in La Nacion as baseless. The match in question was organised by 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.
But according to Argentine paper La Nacion, Grondona went to extraordinary lengths to get the world's greatest player and his international colleagues to come to Dublin.
But, the article continues, the friendly hit a snag as Barcelona were playing a pre-season tour in Asia at the time and the Catalans wanted an insurance payment in case Lionel Messi was injured in Dublin.
The article then states that Grondona, unable to get such an insurance payment, tried to guarantee Messi's safety by giving the Irish players $10,000 each to not hurt him during the game.
Grondona passed away last year and there is nothing other than his crazy claim to suggest that any payment was ever made to the Irish players.
In fact, photos from the game show that Richard Dunne, Keith Andrews and Kevin Kilbane went after Messi just like any overmatched team should.
We studied the game and have definitive proof that Dunne, in particular, didn't take it easy on Messi.