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Irish FA deny players were paid not to tackle Lionel Messi

Irish football chiefs are taking legal advice over claims that Republic of Ireland players were paid not to tackle Lionel Messi during a 2010 friendly.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) claims the allegations that players were paid 10,000 US dollars each, made in La Nacion in South America, as "baseless" and have vowed to take the matter further.

Argentina faced Ireland in Dublin in August 2010 in a friendly to officially open the new Aviva Stadium and the report suggests it was also in part to help compensate the FAI for the nation's controversial World Cup play-off exit following the Thierry Henry handball in France nine months earlier.

An FAI statement said: "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."

The report claims the late Julio Grondona, then president of the Argentina Football Association and senior FIFA vice-president, suggested to FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter that the Argentinian team should head for Dublin.

However, it alleges that Messi's club Barcelona were unhappy with the arrangement and with an insurance quote for the game coming in at five million US dollars, it was decided to adopt the less costly policy of paying the Ireland players to go easy on Messi.

The game, in which captain Robbie Keane won his 100th senior international cap, ended 1-0 with Angel di Maria scoring the only goal in front of a crowd of 45,200.

The FAI found itself thrust into the limelight earlier this month after chief executive John Delaney confirmed it had received a loan, later written off, of five million euros from FIFA in the wake of the Republic's play-off heartbreak at the Stade de France.

Delaney claimed the payment, which was used to offset the cost of redeveloping the old Lansdowne Road stadium, had been made after he and Blatter had entered into a deal under which the Irish governing body would not take legal action over the goal which handed France their ticket to South Africa after referee Martin Hansson and his assistants failed to spot  Henry's handball in the build-up.

The confidentiality agreement between the two parties, which was released by the FAI in a bid to clarify the situation, described the payment as an "inducement" not to enter into litigation.

Headlines for Ireland this week

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  • Irish FA deny players were paid not to tackle Lionel Messi

  • Irish football chiefs are taking legal advice over claims that Republic of Ireland players were paid not to tackle Lionel Messi during a 2010 friendly.

  • Former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane not guilty of road rage

  • Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has been found not guilty of a public order offence after an alleged road rage row.

  • Keane refuses to give up on Ireland's Euro 2016 dream

  • Robbie Keane is refusing to give up on the Republic of Ireland's hopes of making it to the 2016 European Championship finals in France.


  • Scotland stayed two points clear of the Republic of Ireland in their European Championship Qualifying Group D after hanging on for a share the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the Aviva Stadium.

  • Martin O'Neill: Republic of Ireland will fight for Euro 2016 qualification after Scotland draw

  • Martin O’Neill insists Republic of Ireland will not give up on Euro 2016 qualification despite being held at home by Scotland.

  • John Delaney escapes FIFA 'pay-off' probe from Republic of Ireland politicians

  • Irish politicians have decided not to question John Delaney about the five million euro 'pay-off' from FIFA for the Thierry Henry handball which cost the Republic a World Cup place.

  • Robbie Keane could miss Scotland game after second death

  • Robbie Keane will be left to decide whether he plays against Scotland following the death of a second family member.

  • James McClean: Ireland can pile pressure on Scotland

  • James McClean says the Republic of Ireland will go out “all guns blazing” in their bid to qualify for the European Championships as they look to down Scotland and leapfrog their Group D rivals.

  • Robbie Keane trains ahead of Republic of Ireland's European Qualifier

  • Roy Keane is convinced record goalscorer Robbie Keane will not let the Republic of Ireland down if he is pitched into European Qualifier battle with Scotland despite a family bereavement.

  • Midfielder Harry Arter out of Republic of Ireland squad for Scotland clash

  • Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter has withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland squad for Saturday's European Qualifier against Scotland.

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