Thanks to FIFA’s peculiar interpretation of its own fair play charter, Ireland are given a pre-World Cup friendly against Brazil – at the Emirates (gee thanks; see you there, eh) – and Thierry Henry gets off scot-free.
FAI chief John Delaney, who between the crises at Derry and Cork has plenty on his plate, says the FAI will have 6,000 ten-year premium tickets for the Aviva Stadium sold by August, and rules out any soccer action in Croke Park at least until they expire.
The GAA let it be known last week that Croker would have been available at a cut-price fee to host the Samba Boys, which wasn’t to Delaney’s advantage in terms of downplaying the PR own-goal scored by staging yet another ‘home’ friendly in London.
His riposte came in suggesting that if he’d known Croke Park might be available on a long-term basis then the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road mightn’t have been necessary in the first place – a claim that’s angered their temporary landlords.
The way I remember it, the IRFU and FAI were practically forced to swear on their members’ lives that they only wanted a loan of the stadium while they were getting their own house in order, and not a minute longer. It was on that basis, and in the greater economic interest of keeping competitive rugby and soccer internationals in Dublin, that the GAA agreed to ‘suspend’ the rule banning foreign games (while collecting €1.5m in rent per match, as was their right, in the process).
Having had little trouble selling their share of the dear seats for the new stadium, the IRFU have notably stayed schtum, realising perhaps that if there’s a demand for 80,000 tickets for a Six Nations match beyond this year – which there undoubtedly will be – they may well be tempted to ask the GAA for another few favours, and possibly bring their corporate clients with them.
As for the hordes now complaining about Ireland playing on Arsenal’s turf, where were they all when the ‘Socceroos’ came to Thomond Park last August?