Sue Ronan reacts to the Women's Football Team controversy

The former manager of the Women's National Football team spoke to Off The Ball today

BY Sinéad Farrell 16:26 Saturday 6 May 2017, 16:26 6 May 2017

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Sue Ronan has given her reaction to the recent controversy in which the Irish Women's National Team (WNT) held a press conference to air their grievances regarding the FAI's apparent treatment of the side.

At the press conference, the players outlined a number of demands for the FAI, which included team gear to be distributed before meeting at the airport for away games, as well as sufficient wi-fi services at hotel accommodation.

Following mediation talks, the matter was resolved and all matters raised by the players were successfully addressed.

During Off The Ball's Saturday Panel, Aaron Shearer, a barrister for the GPA and the founder of Inchicore Girls FC, questioned how the FAI is developing women's football in Ireland and said the organisation needs to 'take a hard look at themselves.' 

In a separate conversation, Off The Ball's Ger Gilroy spoke to former WNT manager Sue Ronan, to get her reaction to Shearer's comment, to inquire about how the FAI plans to improve the development of women's football in Ireland, and to get her reaction to the WNT's press conference.

Ronan managed the team for six years before stepping down last year to take up the role of Head of Women's Football for the FAI.

When asked about the team's decision to host a press conference to articulate their grievances, she said:

Image: The Republic of Ireland squad with Sue Ronan after her last game in charge last year. 

"The professionalism that is there (in the FAI) now and indeed years and years ago all the volunteers and all the effort they have put in, it's disappointing from that point of view that this issue was seen that there was nothing happening with women's football when it's truly not the case.

"I'm happy that that issue has been dealt with now and the players seem to be happy with it also. I certainly think it's time to move on from it. But from my own experience, I was six years with the national team and all I can say is during that time there was a huge improvement in everything from facilities that we stayed in - we stayed in the same facilities as the men's national team, we train on the same ground as the men's national team, we have the biggest programme of activity of all the teams.

"I really do think the women's national team have been looked after. The issues that the players do have, have been dealt with, so hopefully we can all move on.

During the dispute between the players and the FAI, a letter was sent to all members of the squad which was signed by Ronan, along with High-Performance Director Ruud Dokter and Operations Director Peter Sherrard.

The letter stated that the FAI would not negotiate with the PFAI on behalf of the players and said their actions could potentially 'set back the development of the game generally, and the development of your own careers as players.'

When asked about having her signature on that letter, Ronan replied:

"I'm the head of women's football so I want to be involved in all aspects and try to get things right. I signed a letter with a view to getting players round the table (to talk about their issues), that was all and to try and move on. We've moved on now, everything's been resolved, let's try and get behind the team on the pitch."

She added:

"The players have done what they felt they needed to do. It's been resolved and I think it's time to get behind the players now in terms of results and try and move on."

Today's Saturday Panel about female participation in sport features Dr Aoife Lane of the WGPA, Dr Katie Liston and Aaron Sheare.

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