Investment in football crucial to grow the game
Labour Dublin Bay North TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called for cross-party support of a forthcoming Labour Party Dáil motion to invest in the domestic football industry.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“Football has been a traditionally underfunded game, and there’s no doubt that this is in part due to the fact that the game has traditionally been played in more working class areas. It was openly despised in the early years of the State, being dismissed as the ‘garrison game’ by official Ireland.
“It has never received the political backing or financial support it deserves. Despite this the League of Ireland is attracting its biggest crowds in years and the senior women’s side are due to compete in the World Cup next month.
“There is no more powerful game that lifts communities across the country, acts as a positive integration model and gives us moments as a nation that we’ll never forget.
“The history of the game here has been dogged with poor management from within the FAI. However a recent FAI report highlights the “infrastructure deficit” at the heart of the game and calls for investment of approximately €860 million over the next 15 years.
“It is clear that the FAI have turned a corner and It is now time that we grasp the nettle to build a better future for those who love the game so much.
“That’s what Labour’s motion is all about. It’s calling for an end to photo opportunities and step up with the funding that’s so desperately needed. The benefits of this investment are enormous.We need to challenge the assumption that young players must travel to the UK to play this game professionally. Our domestic leagues should be excellent, with modern stadiums, full-time players and bustling crowds. We should have the ambition for our clubs to compete at the highest European level.
“UEFA’s Social Return on Investment (SROI) report shows a strong social return for Ireland, with participation in the game contributing €1.18 billion to our economy through social (€300m+), economic (€355m+) and health savings (€1.13bn+). It’s a no brainer to invest in and grow the game.
“There’s an opportunity to move forward now. We can’t just put on the green jersey and support the Women’s team in the World Cup. We need to tackle the infrastructural issues that the game has head on and invest in the future.”