The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and the Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne TD, have published a report on the progress made by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) in the implementation of reforms set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed with the Government in January 2020.

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In total, 163 recommendations were set out between the 2019 Governance Review Group (GRG) Report, the 2019 KOSI audit and the 2020 MOU.

The Report notes that 159 out of 163 items (98%) are marked as either Complete or Phase 1 Complete.

The remaining 4 items were not delivered within the original agreed timelines.

These items, which relate to gender balance and to the full implementation of the GRG and KOSI recommendations, are being progressed and the report notes that they can be delivered by the FAI, within a longer timeline.

Specifically, the 4 outstanding items that remain to be implemented are:

(i) GRG Report recommendation that there should be a 33.3% gender balance on the FAI Board within 12 months, i.e. by June 2020.

(ii) GRG Report recommendation that 33% gender balance should also be reflected at Council, Committee and AGM level within three years, i.e. by June 2022.

(iii) MOU requirement that the FAI fully implement the 2019 GRG recommendations by the end of 2020.

(iv) MOU requirement that the FAI fully implement all KOSI audit recommendations by the end of 2020.

A tracker report on the recommendations from the 2019 Governance Review Group Report and the 2020 Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and FAI, which has been prepared by Sport Ireland, is also being published by the Department today.

In relation to the 2019 KOSI Audit recommendations, the Department is unable to include those recommendations in the tracker report for publication, due to the ongoing investigation being undertaken by the Corporate Enforcement Authority into past matters at the FAI.

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Minister Catherine Martin said:

The FAI has made significant progress in implementing very important and necessary reforms since the Memorandum of Understanding was agreed in 2020.

This progress has enabled the Government, through Sport Ireland, to continue to provide increased funding to the Association for the development of football in Ireland.

It is important that the FAI continues to progress the reforms, including gender balance requirements, to ensure a stronger association for Irish football into the future.

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Minister Thomas Byrne said:

The Memorandum of Understanding with the FAI was a critical element in the Government’s financial support for the FAI at the time when the Association’s very existence was at risk.

Over the 4-year period of the MOU, the FAI worked to deliver the necessary reforms that are critical to ensuring good governance in the Association and, as outlined in the report, 98% of the recommendations have now been addressed.

Sport Ireland will continue to work with the FAI to ensure that the best governance practices are implemented and maintained for the benefit of everyone involved in football in Ireland.

The recommendations were put in place to protect Irish football and to protect the interests of the Irish public.

My Department will be engaging with Sport Ireland to consider the need for further support for the FAI beyond the term of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Minister Rabbitte welcomed the implementation of the recommendations:

Gender balance in soccer is an essential aspect that reflects the ongoing efforts to promote equality and inclusivity in the sport.

Historically, soccer has been predominantly male-dominated, but strides have been made to bridge the gender gap in recent years.

The importance of gender balance extends beyond the playing field to coaching staff, administrative roles, and leadership positions within soccer organisations.

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Efforts to encourage female participation, support women’s leagues, and provide equal opportunities for training and development contribute to a more inclusive and diverse soccer community.

Achieving gender balance not only enhances the overall quality and competitiveness of the sport but also sends a powerful message about breaking stereotypes and promoting equality in all aspects of life.

As soccer, and indeed other sports continues to evolve, fostering gender balance becomes integral to ensuring that talent and passion are recognised and celebrated, irrespective of gender.

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