KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- John Delaney, chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland, has distanced himself as far as possible from the Olympics ticketing crisis embroiling the Olympic Council of Ireland.
Delaney refused to comment, while in London on Wednesday for the launch of Euro 2020, on the scandal which has seen OCI president Patrick Hickey – a senior member of the International Olympic Committee – arrested, charged and on bail in Brazil.
Speculation about what Delaney may, or may not, have known was a natural product of the fact that he is a member of the OCI courtesy of his status as the executive head of football in the Republic of Ireland for the past decade.
Hickey and Kevin Mallon, a businessman from ticketing agency THG, were arrested before the end of the Olympics along with a dozen other men over allegations – which they deny – concerning the resale of Games tickets.
Shortly afterwards a warrant was issued for the arrest of Delaney but was subsequently withdrawn and he noted in a statement that he has not had any contact with Brazilian prosecutors’ investigators.
Delaney said: “I had no knowledge of or involvement in anything to do with tickets for the Rio games.”
Explaining his membership of the OCI executive committee, Delaney added: “I am the FAI’s nominee on [the] board of OCI which comprises 13 people from a range of different sports and in common with most of the members of the executive committee, my role does not involve me in the day-to-day operations of the OCI.”
Delaney said his priority, along with his colleagues, had been “to ensure that all proper steps were put in place to ensure that the OCI addressed the important issues it faced correctly, including ensuring that proper and appropriate expert advice was taken on the various issues.
“It was also imperative the committee initially gained a full understanding and knowledge of the facts and seriousness of the situation presented to us to implement the correct course of action of investigation.”
Hence the OCI had appointed Arthur Cox (solicitors), Deloitte and Grant Thornton “to review and enquire into matters raised” and was “committed to its co-operation with the government enquiry led by Justice Carroll Moran.”
Just to emphasise his distance from alleged events in Rio, Delaney added: “I had absolutely no role or involvement in the OCI’s handling of ticketing arrangements for the Rio Olympic Games.”
He added that any dealing with ticket agencies OCI and PRO “was not brought to the OCI board’s attention.”
However he also acknowledged that “as a volunteer board member . . . I was in a position to attend only five of the 13 meetings prior to the Rio Olympics.”