FAI's Ruud Dokter reacts to issues raised by Ireland Women's National Team

Off The Ball also speak to PFAI solicitor Stuart Gilhooly

Ruud Dokter, FAI, Ireland

FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter has described suggestions that Ireland's Women's National Football team are treated as fifth class citizens as "nonsense".

On Tuesday, members of the current Women's national side as well as members of the player's union the PFAI, attended a press conference in which they outlined issues they would like to see addressed.

At the press conference, PFAI solicitor Stuart Gilhooly said: "I think we need to recognise that the Women’s International team is being treated, not as a second class citizens, as a fifth class citizen. They are the dirt off the FAI’s shoe, that’s how they see them."

On Tuesday night's Off The Ball, Dokter spoke about the issue and when asked about the aforementioned remarks, he said: "That's simply not true and absolutely nonsense. The women's senior team has top class standard of care in terms of hotel accommodation - same as the men - training pitches - same as the men - fitness, performance analysis, medical and physical care, it's all very top class." 

"Obviously we understand the issues that players are facing and we are very serious to resolve these issues in a constructive and professional way. So it's disappointing it got so far but we have to resolve it," he said.

"These issues were addressed to us last year and a lot of these issues have been addressed in the meantime so not all of them were already addressed but most of them were. So we were constantly working on that and, as you know, the development of women's football is a key priority for the Association and the recent appointment of a full time head of women's football and a full time manager for the women's team for the first time - a coach who was a Champions League winner - all that proves that we are very keen to develop women's football.

"And we're constantly working to improve things on the women's side and the senior team in particular. And yes, not all the issues were solved but we have very serious and tangible offers to discuss with the players and we have attempted to bring the players to the table. However we were not successful in that and that is disappointing."

On some of the issues, they intend to resolve, Dokter said that on the kit issue, "the players will be given tracksuits from and to international duty". He also said that the players "have access to the gym at the High Performance at the National Campus" and also said that it would be "possible" to organise gym membership in the players' respective local areas.

He also added that he would "strongly encourage the players to give talks with us a chance; I mean there's nothing to lose and everything to gain".

Off The Ball also spoke to the PFAI solicitor Stuart Gilhooly about the matter and how the situation got to this point.

He revealed that "there are some players who are down €50,000 over the course of their careers" due to loss of earnings from their dedication to play for Ireland internationally.

On the potential of a boycott if the issues are not sorted out, he said: "That's a live possibility certainly. They haven't made a final decision yet and it would be an absolute last resort, nuclear option, but something needs to be done. They need to sort this."