'Sure We Don't Want To Sit With Blazers'

'Sure We Don't Want To Sit With Blazers'
By Gavin Cooney
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The Olympic Council of Ireland elect a successor to Pat Hickey tomorrow night, with Willie O'Brien the favourite to succeed Hickey. If you want to know more about O'Brien, you can read Conor Neville's fine profile here.

Off the Ball decided to cover the election on tonight's show, with only one candidate - former FAI CEO Bernard O'Byrne - willing to come on air.

That he did, and was grilled for about twenty minutes by Ger Gilroy. You can listen to the full interview back on Newstalk's website.

During the interview, Gilroy asked O'Byrne about one of the most eye-catching scandals of the Rio Olympics, that athletes flew in economy class while the OCI officials lived it up in first-class. 


O'Byrne said that such an arrangement is "not excusable". He was then asked about a similar scandal in his time with the FAI, which was cited as one of the contributing factors to Roy Keane walking out on the squad in Saipan.

Ahead of a qualifying game with Cyprus, it was alleged that the FAI's blazers flew first class while the players sat in economy. It was a minor scandal, which was flagged in the RTE studio by Eamon Dunphy:

Yeah, it just so happened that 18 first class seats were occupied by the blazers.

Afterward, Keane clarified by saying that "no one gave any thought to the seating arrangements", with seating allocated at random, along with stressing that FAI officials were happy to swap seats with the players.

O'Byrne cleared up the story once and for all on Off the Ball this evening:

No, Roy Keane rang me and he said 'this is a media invention, Bernard. We couldn't care less, sure we don't want to sit with blazers'.

We booked about fifty, of fifty-five seats on a flight. And the day before, Aer Lingus got in touch with our commercial manager and said, we haven't sold all of our first class tickets, so we'll upgrade five of your people, or it might have been six. So we did fly first class, but we didn't pay for it.

You can listen back to the full interview here. 

See Also: Retro Clip: Bohs Defender Gives Wes Hoolahan A Warm Welcome To Winter Football In 2002



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