A small delegation of senior officials from UEFA spent the day in Dublin yesterday getting up to speed on the governance issues that have beset the FAI over recent weeks.
They flew in from Switzerland to meet first of all with the FAI interim CEO Rea Walshe and Board Member Niamh O’Donoghue who are representing the Association on the joint Governance Review group established with Sport Ireland.
The group then expanded to meet with other members of that group and representatives of Sport Ireland a short hop across the National Sports Campus at Abbottstown.
The event was organised at relatively short notice as it clashed with the FAI’s launch of this year’s Festival of Football in Meath leading up to the AGM on July 27th.
At that launch in Trim International managers, Mick McCarthy and Colin Bell spoke to media about matters on the pitch but with only passing reference to the other matters.
FAI Vice President Noel Conway was present for the launch photography in place of President Donal Conway who suffered a family bereavement over the weekend.
There was no official statement about what had been discussed but the likelihood is that the UEFA delegation will have been interested to see that the FAI would still be in a position to fulfil its duties and obligations as a UEFA member nation, with sufficient safeguards in terms of governance and financial management to operate successfully but also to do so free from overt Government interference.
UEFA is the FAI’s principal source of backing outside of commercial income and affiliation fees, providing the main funding from collectively negotiated TV deals around the main international tournaments.
It also represents the interest of FIFA, the World Governing Body.
Assurances will doubtless have been sought and given that the current challenges will be resolved and have no impact on the hosting in Dublin of four matches as part of next summer’s EURO 2020 European Championships.
The FAI has sought submissions from its main stakeholders, including sponsors and individuals with an interest in the sport, on what elements they see as being the most important when it comes to governance changes which can be enacted at the AGM.
These will feed into the report of the Governance Review Group, chaired by Aidan Horan from the Institute of Public Administration, which is expected to be published next month.