FAI has funding withdrawn amid fallout over Delaney loan

DUBLIN (AP) — The Football Association of Ireland had funding of 1.35 million euros ($1.5 million) withdrawn Tuesday amid the fallout arising from a loan by one of its top executives.

Sport Ireland, the body that distributes money to sporting organizations in the country, said it is suspending funding to the FAI — a day before the soccer body’s representatives attend a parliamentary committee hearing into its governance.

John Delaney, an elected member of UEFA’s executive committee, went to court last month to unsuccessfully block publication of a story about him loaning 100,000 euros ($113,000) to the FAI, where he was chief executive at the time. Delaney’s actions have been questioned by politicians and sports authorities in Ireland, and the FAI handed Delaney a newly created role of executive vice president as part of a governance review without explaining the need for the change.

Sport Ireland said the FAI has not complied with a clause in its terms and conditions which says organizations it funds must “notify Sport Ireland in writing without delay in the event of any material deterioration in its financial position or of any other matter which may jeopardize the organization’s overall financial viability.”

Sport Ireland gives the FAI 2.7 million euros annually. The FAI has already been paid 50 percent of its funding for 2019.

“It is unfortunate,” the FAI said, “that Sport Ireland now feel compelled to take this action in the wake of recent events.”

“The association is keen,” it added, “to restore trust and confidence and rebuild the relationship with Sport Ireland as soon as possible.”

Sport Ireland said it “will consider the reinstatement of funding once all ongoing reports commissioned by the FAI have been completed and the recommendations adopted.”

An anti-Delaney protest by fans of Ireland’s national team last month saw a hail of tennis balls thrown on the field to interrupt a European Championship qualifying game in Dublin.