Iovino: ‘Osimhen asked to change representatives’ | Football Italia

  Star Factory representative Franco Iovino has claimed Lille made Victor Osimhen change agency in order to sell the forward to Napoli ‘because of the excellent relationship between the Presidents’.

  Iovino of the Star Factory, the agency that previously looked after the interests of Lille forward Osimhen, has accused Lille of ‘advising’ Osimhen to change agent.

  The Nigerian did eventyally go with William D’Avila, who has since been vital in the negotiations with Napoli and Iovino spoke to Radio Punto Nuovo regarding the transfer saga.

  “It was not clear what happened,” Iovino said. “Perhaps something fishy went down, probably between the Presidents of Lille and Napoli.

  “The negotiations didn’t slow down because of Star Factory but because the player kept hesitating. William D’Avila is a home agent in Lille. The club will surely have advised Osimhen to leave us and go with him.

  “They will certainly have promised him money. Lille for some reason wanted to only sell to Napoli, because there’s an excellent relationship between the Presidents.

  “At the moment, my company doesn’t need to look itself in the mirror, the two clubs do.”

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Orsolini: ‘Miha should have told me in private’ | Football Italia

  Bologna forward Riccardo Orsolini struggled to explain the Rossoblu’s poor form and revealed he confronted coach Sinisa Mihajlovic. ‘I didn’t like certain things he said about me’.

  The Rossoblu have only picked up one win in their seven last games and Orsolini admitted that the players ‘don’t know what happened’.

  “We ask ourselves; we also gave ourselves some explanations but they’re not enough,” Orsolini told Il Corriere dello Sport. “We felt the drop physically, but in the end, we don’t know what happened.”

  But the 23-year-old revealed that Mihajlovic has left them in silence to ‘reflect’ on the performances in recent weeks.

  “He didn’t speak to us; he didn’t give us any lessons. It was more of a deafening silence than harsh words.

  “The silence makes you reflect and the more you think, the worse you feel.”

  But the coach has always had a special rapport with Orsolini and publicly said he ‘expects more’ from the Italy international.

  “We have a frank relationship,” Orsolini added. “We often talk, and I didn’t like certain things he said about me at the press conference.

  “I didn’t like it when he said I have to wake up, but I didn’t hide from him. It would have been better if he told me in private.

  “He said it to shake me.”

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Osimhen can light up Napoli | Football Italia_3

  It might sound strange, but 2020 just keeps getting better and better for Napoli from a footballing point of view.

  The Partenopei were a complete mess back in December when the infamous row between the players and the club resulted in Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking. However, Gennaro Gattuso has been doing wonders ever since, winning the Coppa Italia and building a solid foundation for next season.

  Putting the results aside, Napoli have done extremely well in the January transfer window, bringing in Diego Demme, Stanislav Lobotka and Matteo Politano, while also securing the services of Amir Rrahmani from Verona and SPAL’s top goalscorer Andrea Petagna for next term.

  While Aurelio De Laurentiis has done well to add quality and depth to the squad, it’s hard to say that any of those signings bring the excitement that the Napoletani are used to seeing. That’s where Victor Osimhen comes in.

  The 21-year-old striker is set to become Napoli’s most expensive signing ever, as the Partenopei are set to pay a stunning €50m plus Orestis Karnezis and bonuses to Lille OSC for the Nigerian talent. The reports of €81m seem far-fetched and probably included the wages for his entire contract. It’s still a lot more than the Partenopei paid for their current most expensive acquisition Hirving Lozano, who arrived for €42m from PSV Eindhoven last summer.

  It’s obvious that even for €50m the expectations towards Osimhen will go way beyond the pure excitement that such a signing brings, but what exactly can he bring to Napoli?

  The Nigerian’s numbers clearly can’t justify his gigantic rumoured €81m transfer fee, as Osimhen scored 18 goals and four assists in all competitions for Lille, before Ligue 1 was cancelled due to the COVID situation. However, his age and playing style are what make him perfect for Napoli, as the 185cm tall striker possess impressive speed and physique, while his off the ball movement is simply remarkable.

  Osimhen is a player who likes to run in the channels and behind the back of opposition defences, which makes him a good for Napoli’s playing style. His acceleration and ability to run with the ball also mean he would be perfect for Gattuso’s counter-attacking approach in certain games.

  While neither Arkadiusz Milik nor Dries Mertens combine those qualities, Osimhen’s biggest advantage over them is the intensity of his pressing gamе. The Nigerian averages 1.3 recoveries in the final third, which is significantly higher than Milik’s 0.9, while his speed and agility are far superior to those of Mertens, who at 33, often loses some of his intensity in the latter stages of games.

  Osimhen’s presence in Napoli’s attack would allow the Partenopei to recover possession much easier and in more advanced areas of the pitch, while his speed and positioning in the penalty area will make the transition from defence to attack much smoother. This is further highlighted by Osimhen’s 78.9% progressive passes success rate, which is equal to Mertens, but significantly higher than Milik’s 64%.

  In terms of shooting, Osimhen is also far more composed than his age might suggest, as 44% of his shots hit the target, which is much better than Mertens’ 35%. Milik’s stats look similar in that regard, but considering that the Pole seems eager to leave, it would certainly help if Napoli have a player of similar height and shooting accuracy.

  The Nigerian’s technical ability is not to be underestimated as well, as although he is right-footed, he is also very capable with his left, scoring seven goals with his supposed weaker foot.

  Of course, pointing out only the strong aspects of Osimhen’s game would be wrong, so just like Martin Schmidt who used to coach him at Wolfsburg admitted recently, the youngster still has a long way to go tactically. However, he already has remarkable speed and athleticism, so he already is a very strong player.

  Mentality wise, just like every young player, the 21-year-old needs to improve his concentration, but he plays with such fire and passion that could potentially make him instrumental for Gattuso’s vision of the team.

  Despite all this, the fact remains that Osimhen’s transfer is a huge gamble for Napoli. Becoming Napoli’s most expensive signing ever and one of the most expensive African players of all time surely comes with a burden, so the big risk here is to avoid the exaggerated transfer fee putting in unrealistic expectations towards the player.

  It is no coincidence that the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have shown interest in the Nigerian, so there is little doubt that Osihmen can light up Naples. He just needs to be given the chance.

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Highlights Genoa 2-1 Lecce

  It was a dramatic, chaotic and unexpected relegation dogfight at Marassi, as Genoa squeezed past Lecce 2-1 with a missed penalty haunting Marco Mancosu.

  There was only one point separating these sides going into the weekend, with Lecce third from bottom and the Grifone the nearest to the drop zone.

  This result could well prove decisive for who goes down into Serie B along with SPAL and Brescia, so the stakes could not have been higher.

  The game had it all, from VAR drama to a missed penalty, a wayward cross that turned into a goal and a bizarre winner that ricocheted in off the goalkeeper’s back.

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Roma: Florenzi leaves Valencia | Football Italia

  Roma-owned Alessandro Florenzi has announced his departure from Valencia, thanking the club for ‘making me feel at home’.

  Florenzi joined Valencia on loan in January and put a bout of chickenpox and a red card behind him to play 12 times at Mestalla.

  However, the 29-year-old confirmed earlier today that he would not be making his stay permanent.

  In an Instagram post of himself looking out of an aeroplane window, he thanked Los Che for ‘making me feel at home’, amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

  Valencia ended their domestic campaign on Sunday, finishing a disappointing ninth in La Liga.

  The right-sider is now back at Roma, although he is not registered to take part in the Giallorossi’s remaining Serie A matches this season.

  View this post on Instagram

  MUCHAS GRACIAS! Valencia me ha acogido con afecto y cari?o. Debíamos afrontar en el campo a muchos equipos, pero después nos encontramos todos juntos jugando en un solo equipo contra un adversario inesperado y maldito. Gracias, gracias de verdad a todos por haberme hecho sentir como en casa. Gracias a todos los componentes del Valencia CF, del primero al último. Gracias a mis compa?eros: un grupo de personas fantásticas. Gracias valencianistas por vuestro cari?o. Ciao Valencia, Y MUCHAS GRACIAS! Aquí tenéis a un valencianista más. Alessandro. // SOLO GRAZIE! Valencia mi hai accolto con affetto e calore. Dovevamo affrontare in campo tante squadre, e poi ci siamo ritrovati tutti a giocare in una sola squadra contro un avversario inaspettato e maledetto. Grazie, grazie davvero per avermi fatto sentire a casa. Grazie a tutti i componenti della società: dal primo all’ultimo. Grazie ai miei compagni: un gruppo di ragazzi fantastici. Ciao Valencia, SOLO GRAZIE! Alessandro

  A post shared by ALESSANDRO FLORENZI (@florenzi) on Jul 21, 2020 at 2:22am PDT

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Pioli: ‘Milan always fair with me’ | Football Italia

  Stefano Pioli reveals he was told on Monday that Milan would extend his contract and thanks Ivan Gazidis for ‘being very fair with me’ throughout the Ralf Rangnick negotiations.

  It was assumed that Rangnick would take over next season as both coach and director of sport at San Siro, but in a sudden twist this evening, it was announced the Red Bull head of scouting would not be taking on any role and instead Pioli’s contract was extended to June 2022.

  “I am very happy. I’d known for a couple of days and getting the chance to lead such a prestigious club from the start, a team that I know has quality and can grow…” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

  “I am obviously very happy. Our future is now and we must focus on the next three games, as there is much to do, we still have much to give, then we can think of the future from August 3.

  “The club has proved itself very fair with me, as in the individual meeting I had, I was told there was no definitive decision yet and a choice would be made based on evaluations near the end of the season.

  “I didn’t say I was focused on the present just to say that, I meant it. If we hadn’t got back on the field after the restart, it would’ve been a season of great regret, because even before that we showed signs of what we could do.

  “Since the lockdown, we’d be third in the table and are on the same track as Atalanta.”

  Much was said about CEO Gazidis seemingly being the one pushing for Rangnick, while Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara were in favour of Pioli.

  “I have always spoken to Gazidis, above all Gazidis had a meeting with me the week before the Genoa game, when rumours started to emerge. He guaranteed both to me and to the team in a public meeting that no definitive decisions had been made. There were 12 rounds to go then.

  “I had a closer rapport with Maldini and Massara, who are at Milanello every day, but Gazidis has been much more present than in the past, he always expressed his admiration for my work.

  “I got the call on Monday that their intention was to confirm me for the next few seasons.”

  This development was totally unexpected for the media and evidently the players, because Zlatan Ibrahimovic was told about it by Sky Sport Italia reporters after tonight’s 2-1 win at Sassuolo.

  “I did hope it would happen. I hoped. I am happy with the team, the fans, the club. Our work is just at the beginning, this is one of the most prestigious clubs in the world, there is hunger from the team and from me to show what we can do.

  “People talk about the future, but there are still three games to go here! We are laying some very strong foundations, there are young players who have already shown their quality and can only get stronger.

  “I always felt good here, I never had difficulty or felt negativity towards me. I’ve never coached a big club from the start of the season. I’ve never ‘won’ as it were, but I consider saving a club from relegation to be winning too.

  “It was only right that there were some question marks around me, but we are coaches, we are all evaluated based on our results. I above all loved working with the squad, because a coach can tell when players believe in what we’re doing.

  “We are going into a very difficult and fascinating match, we’re missing a lot of players, so we’ll do our best on Friday.”

  Pioli was asked what he most deserved credit for during this whole complicated campaign?

  “I believed in our work, I believed in the quality of this team and its ability to achieve important results. I believed that I could get them to believe in themselves. It was a long process, not an easy one, especially when you don’t start the season together. I think belief was our greatest strength.”

  Sky Sport Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio points out Pioli received other offers, but even when Rangnick was considered a certainty, he rejected them all to wait for Milan.

  “I wanted this. I wanted and hoped for it. I am very, very happy.”

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Agent: ‘English and Spanish offers for Pau Lopez’ | Football Italia

  Pau Lopez ‘has received offers from Spain and the Premier League, but he wants to stay at Roma,’ confirmed the goalkeeper’s agent.

  Questions were raised on his future after he was surprisingly benched for last week’s Serie A win over Brescia, despite having made a full recovery from a microfracture in his wrist.

  It was suggested the move was due to proposals that had come in from England and Spain for the 25-year-old.

  “Pau has received offers from Spain and the Premier League, but he has four years left on his contract and wants to stay at Roma,” agent Albert Botines told LaRoma24.it.

  “There are no negotiations in progress.”

  The Spanish shot-stopper was signed from Real Betis last summer for €23.5m.

  He has been linked with Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and West Ham United.

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A Year in Review: Euro 2020 qualification still possible but off-field problems dominate FAI

THE year began with a stream of FAI denials and legal threats and ended with an FAI apology to everyone associated with Irish football after it was revealed the governing body had debts of €55m and were up the creek without paddle.

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Minister of Sport Shane Ross, who didn’t cover himself in glory with his tasteless ‘Christmas Goose’ tweet, described the FAI as a “basket case”.

April doesn’t seem that long ago when the now-deposed chief executive John Delaney took the ‘5th’ and refused to answer questions posed by the Oireachtas sports committee about the state of the association’s financial affairs.

Meanwhile, Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae thought Delaney was a great fella altogether and lauded the Waterford man’s contribution to football in Ireland.

It was laughable stuff then and even more laughable now given that the FAI’s auditors Deloitte cited a lack of “audit evidence” and cast serious doubt over the association’s ability to function as a going concern.

In a series of investigations, The Sunday Times did Irish football a massive service by exposing the financial abuse and extravagance of Delaney that led to chief executive’s spectacular downfall after 14 years at the helm.

But nobody realised just how much financial trouble the FAI was in until the extent of its debts were revealed in December.

The FAI, rather belatedly, issued an apology last Sunday evening to the “hundreds of thousands involved with Irish football at all levels of the game, to the Irish public and to FAI staff”.

The Irish government, Uefa and what’s left of a ramshackle FAI are still grappling with what to do to save Irish football’s bacon and how to alleviate the crippling debt of the FAI’s share in the Aviva Stadium.

In the past, nations have been banned from competition for fielding overage players, but everything appears dwarfed by how the FAI’s top brass went about its business.

The Irish government, the FAI and Uefa would need to come up with some kind of credible financial package in order to allow the Republic of Ireland senior team to proceed to the Euro 2020 play-offs in March.

Without one, it would be unrealistic for the Republic to be able to compete at any level.

Indeed, the most worrying aspect of this sorry mess is that it only came to light in recent months after years and years of mismanagement.

And yet when you sift through the countless FAI emails sent out to media outlets, some in the association believed back in March that they could still wriggle their way out of this mess and still retain Delaney in some capacity.

Even though the net was closing in, President Donal Conway heaped praise on the Delaney for “everything he has done for the FAI and for Irish football. He has transformed how we operate as an Association.”

Even as far back as November 2018, when Martin O’Neill was sacked, Mick McCarthy’s re-appointment to the Republic of Ireland senior manager’s post while simultaneously announcing Stephen Kenny as his successor after Euro 2020 smacked of self-preservation on Delaney’s behalf in a desperately transparent attempt to appease the many League of Ireland dissenters.

McCarthy is a wily enough media operator and always managed to side-step questions thrown at him at press conferences over the past year about Delaney, the FAI and fan protests without saying much about anything.

He also needed all his years of managerial savvy to get his second spell in charge of the Republic off to a winning start on a wind-swept plastic pitch in Gibraltar back in March, courtesy of a Jeff Hendrick goal.

McCarthy had no warm-up games to get a handle on the Irish squad, while he was also absorbing the international retirements of Daryl Murphy, Jonathan Walters and David Meyler.

But, notably, he did recall Glenn Whelan to the fold despite the 35-year-old being surplus to requirements in the latter stages of Martin O’Neill’s reign – and it turned out to be an excellent decision by the new manager.

At the outset, McCarthy’s objective was simple: qualify for Euro 2020.

And, as we enter a new year, McCarthy is still in with a shout of achieving this lofty goal as the Republic size up Slovakia in March in what is effectively a semi-final play-off with the winners advancing to face either Northern Ireland or Bosnia-Herzegovina in the final.

After eight rounds of qualification games, Group D went to form, with fancied sides Switzerland and Denmark finishing ahead of the Irish to claim the two automatic qualification slots.

The Republic probably needed to beat either Switzerland or Denmark to upset the odds, but they never quite pulled it off.

The football played under McCarthy was better than the latter stages of O’Neill’s time in charge, but not by much it has to be said.

The high points in a difficult Euro 2020 qualification campaign was the 1-0 home win over Georgia and their 1-1 draws with Denmark home and away.

The low points came at the business end of the group in Tbilisi and Geneva when Mick’s men disappointingly could only bank one point out of a possible six as they lost their grip on the top spots.

Playing in his preferred attacking midfield role, Jeff Hendrick threatened to rediscover his Euro 2016 form before his displays began to fluctuate again.

Captain Seamus Coleman had difficult moments too and is under pressure to win back the right back position for the Slovakia tie from Matt Doherty who played ever so well in the 1-1 draw with Denmark in Dublin.

A lack of game-time at club level hindered James McClean’s effectiveness, while Richard Keogh’s career-threatening knee injury, sustained in a car accident, allowed John Egan to show just how much better a central defender he is, slotting in seamlessly alongside Shane Duffy for the last three qualifiers.

With Whelan anchoring midfield, Conor Hourihane came to the fore, bringing a nice passing range to the side as well as grabbing the winner at home to Georgia with a fantastic free-kick.

David McGoldrick proved the talisman as he provided much needed guile in the final third, while U21 starlets Aaron Connolly and Troy Parrott proved in their limited game-time that they can be key players under Stephen Kenny going forward.

After a ropey Nations League campaign, Darren Randolph redeemed himself in goal and proved Ireland’s most important player in 2019.

And there were plenty of positives as the off-colour Danes grabbed a point in Dublin last month which meant the Republic would definitely be relying on the play-offs come March.

Slovakia are no world beaters – finishing behind Croatia and Wales in Group E – but the Republic could only muster seven goals in eight qualifiers and are away from home in the one-legged play-off on Thursday March 26.

But, regardless of how qualification ends for the Republic, 2019 will be remembered as one of the darkest in living memory for the FAI.

A Year in Quotes…

“Isn’t it ironic…my Achilles heel has literally been my Achilles heel and finished me off! I am now retired from playing football It’s been epic Veni vidi vici.” – Jonathan Walters, one of the most popular Irish players, calls time on his career on the eve of the team’s Euro 2020 qualification campaign back March

*

“I don’t regret what I said. The only thing I might regret is the timing of it. It was a bit soon.

“I’ve gone onto that radio station before but I had cancelled on them a few weeks before, so when they asked this time around I thought: ‘I don’t want to cancel on them again’, so I went on it. The timing was probably not the best, that’s the one thing I regret, the timing.” – Republic defender Matt Doherty reflects on that radio interview which took apart former boss Martin O’Neill’s regime

*

“I hated it. It was blowing a gale, it was bouncing all over the place, it was tough.” – Mick McCarthy didn’t enjoy any aspect of his first match back in the Republic dug-out after watching his side chisel out a scruffy 1-0 win in Gibraltar to get their Euro 2020 qualification off to a winning start

*

“I have only just turned 27, so I still have plenty of years to go. I am still improving and hopefully I will play better for my country.” – Jeff Hendrick is forced to answer another question about his fluctuating form for his country

*

“I’d like to thank John [Delaney] for everything he has done for the FAI and for Irish football. He has transformed how we operate as an Association. This new role will allow John to utilise his vast experience and connections in the world of football and will best serve the FAI. John will continue to represent us at UEFA level as we look ahead to next year when the Aviva Stadium will host four games at the EURO 2020 finals thanks to his influence at European level.” – FAI President Donal Conway pays, erm, homage to John Delaney back in March with the intention of the disgraced chief executive moving to a newly created post within the association, which never materialised

*

“A lot of young lads don’t realise that. They’re in this bubble of training until 12 o’clock, coming off the training pitch and doing no extras, playing pool, training in this luxury training ground, heading home and playing on their FIFA. And two years later when their apprenticeship is finished they’re going: ‘What am I going to do now?’

“They’re having free food, nice breakfast, nice lunch, playing table tennis, playing pool. They don’t put in the hard work…

“They’re working harder on the table tennis table than they do in training, and that’s the honest truth.” – Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane doesn’t hold back at the relaxed attitude of the younger generation

*

“He talks a good game. Imagine if he’d won a trophy. He goes on the TV about how he was harshly treated by me. He’s crying on the TV about his family situation.”

“Maybe he should lie low for a while. Have a look at his medals? That wouldn’t take long. We got beaten by Wales. Jon played. Jon didn’t have a good game. Wardy played, he didn’t have a good game. They need to go back see how bad they were.

“Brian Clough. You’re on about motivation. He punched me one time. He was upset. It was heated. He punched me. I remember thinking ‘You’re still a brilliant manager’. I came in the next day and trained. I didn’t text somebody in the media. Or go on Ratsapp.” – Roy Keane hammers Jonathan Walters and Stephen Ward as a guest on Off The Ball’s roadshow

*

“I’ll tell you one thing about the man – he doesn’t get to me one bit. I’m possibly the only one that stood up to him, more than once. I think that’s what bothers him most maybe.”- Jonathan Walters rises above Roy Keane’s base comments

*

“James Collins had a right old scrap there and he was defending the six-yard box. I just thought in the time we might nick it with him [Aaron Connolly], he’s done really well and he’s put himself in a place to play against Switzerland. [But] I make substitutions as I see fit, I don’t look back and regret that I should have done them sooner.” – Mick McCarthy defends his decision to hold Aaron Connolly in reserve in Tbilisi until the 78th minute when the game was crying out for the teenager’s pace

*

“I’ve said at the very start, with us being third seed, I would have taken this. Everybody would have taken it. If you could have forgotten about all the other games and we’ll have a one-off game against Denmark on November 18, it would be brilliant.” – Mick McCarthy’s glass is half full despite losing to Switzerland in Geneva back in October

*

“I think we’re at the end of a disgraceful era as far as I’m concerned. I think there was massive reputational damage to football in Ireland, to the Association, and even ordinary people who were involved in the game had to take a lot of stick. It appears (Delaney) and the rest of them involved in the board have left behind a complete financial shambles. We don’t know the extent of those shambles yet until we hear some of the reports.

“They’ve left behind a staff whose morale is at a very low ebb because of the way they have been treated.

Some brilliant people were discarded over that time, some great people were moved on. They have found out their pensions weren’t even being paid properly. There appears to have been a big settlement so that John’s pension has been paid up properly.” – Brian Kerr probably articulates the feelings of all grassroots members as it becomes clear just how bad a financial state the FAI is in under the leadership of deposed John Delaney

*

“There were two times where we clashed, really clashed, but off the pitch he’s the manager and he wins. We shook hands and got on with it but at the end of it, I think he appreciated it more me having a go than holding it in and speaking behind his back or to other lads.”

“It happens all the time, more than you guys realise. Decisions, tactics, where he wants you in a wall, stuff like that. We’re not children.” – Glenn Whelan reflects on his frank exchanges with former boss Martin O’Neill

*

“You’re all talking about them coming through into the first team. When he gets the job – and it won’t be that long now – he’ll be perfectly placed.

“In the meantime, it’s me that’s come in and [I] could have taken the backlash had we drawn in Gibraltar or lost in Gibraltar, and that’s protected him from that.

“Hopefully we qualify, get to the Euros and it will be seen as a really good decision to have done what we did.” – Not for the last time, Mick McCarthy becomes a bit agitated about the constant chatter over his successor and U21 boss Stephen Kenny

*

“You f***ing weasel.” – James McClean lets fly at one journalist before a press conference over some of the things he tweeted and reported about the Derryman’s performances

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“The Board of the Football Association of Ireland has tonight (December 29) issued an apology to the hundreds of thousands involved with Irish football at all levels of the game, to the Irish public and to FAI staff.

“The apology was made following the reconvened AGM of the FAI at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin where delegates were presented with the financial statements for 2018.

President Donal Conway said: “The clear message from our delegates today is that Irish football wants to move forward and we apologise to all our stakeholders for the mistakes of the past.” – The FAI, what’s left of it, issues an apology about slapping €55m debt on Irish football

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