Examining the deep-rooted causes behind the Aviva protest

Contrary to the belief many hold, Tuesday night’s anti-John Delaney protests were not a direct response to the FAI’s recent handling of the ‘Celtic Park debacle’. They were, in fact, were the result of the continuing mistreatment of Republic of Ireland and domestic football fans from the governing body.

Via Twitter
Via Twitter

While the protest was modest in size, the FAI may have faced one of its greatest public relations disasters at the national stadium, due in part to the apparently overly physical treatment of those involved in the lower south stand, who rather tellingly gained the immediate support of those around them as soon as it became clear that the FAI’s stewards – with the help of the Gardai – were attempting to remove banners and even supporters from the stadium as the protest began on the 12th minute.

Ironically the television and media lenses were drawn to the south stand by the unusually large number of yellow jackets occupying that end of the ground, rather than by the large ‘Failures’ banner unfurled by the You Boys in Green (YBIG) members who had organised the event.

It must be said that throughout the 4-1 win against the USA, the anti-FAI/John Delaney protest was met with a mixed reaction from Ireland supporters, with some seeing it as a hijacking of the international match and others saying the only reason you should be at a game is to support your team.

However, to those who have followed the national team across the globe for years only to be left ticket-less for the game in Glasgow and, perhaps more importantly, those who have seen their clubs and national league crumble under the stewardship of the current FAI regime, felt last night was the perfect opportunity to voice their discontent and the initial media coverage of the protest will be viewed as a success by those supporters.

A video put together showcasing last nights protests and questioning the extreme Garda presence at the Aviva Stadium has already received over 6000 views online, while a thread set up to help run last nights protest on YBIG has seen over 12,000 hits – indicative of the popularity this issue has generated.

Via Twitter
Via Twitter

However more worryingly for Delaney and co, will be the coverage of this story from well-respected journalists and online publications and with talk of future protests being organised it will be interesting to see the reaction from Abottstown in the coming days or if they will take to ‘the let it all blow over and hope for the best’ approach, an modus operandi many domestic football followers will say has always been the way of the FAI as club after club continue to fold under the Football Association of Ireland’s governance.

The case of Monaghan United was one voiced on numerous occasions by League of Ireland fans in the south stand last night with John Delaney and a number of FAI head honchos failing to return home to Ireland to deal with United’s financial demise and subsequent withdrawal from the league during Euro 2012.

It must also be remembered that only a few weeks ago, John Delaney labelled the League of Ireland as the “problem child”. One would imagine that had the CEO of another footballing governing body made such comments about their country’s league they would face uncontrollable backlash and, potentially, lose their job. But with the domestic game overlooked by so many in Ireland the Delaney regime rolls merrily on.

Kildare County, Sporting Fingal, Shelbourne, Cork City and Derry City are all clubs that have all suffered financial meltdown since the FAI took over the running of the domestic game, while facilities such as stadia and training grounds continue to decline with former international, Keith Fahey recently stating in a newspaper interview that some grounds haven’t had a lick of paint since he returned from Birmingham City.

Pitches in such ruins that Dublin derbies are being called off minutes before kick-off, poor refereeing standards and lack of promotion from the association, these are the quibbles that dig away at the soul of League of Ireland followers who took part in last nights protests.

With the FAI fining clubs in recent years for the display of anti-FAI or Delaney banners, this was the only opportunity for domestic fans to release their anger on the CEO and you simply cannot blame them for wanting to do so.

The Author

Kieran Burke

While a fan and follower of football from all over the globe, Kieran Burke specialises in all things League of Ireland with opinionated pieces, big name interviews and match previews/reports his bread and butter. Check out his new website www.betweenthestripesblog.wordpress.com

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