By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — RTE has blown the whistle on its controversial soccer pundit, Eamon Dunphy, and ordered him to the sidelines after he appeared on screen on Sunday morning “tired and emotional” after a night on the town.
Dunphy, who’s 56, admitted RTE was justified in its decision to suspend him from the station’s coverage of the World Cup and apologized to his bosses and viewers.
“I accept responsibility,” he said. “It was my fault. At the end of the day I didn’t fulfill my contractual obligations and I was wrong. I was really irresponsible and quite wrong.”
He denied he was drunk. “I wasn’t actually drunk,” he told RTE News. “I had been. I hadn’t been terribly drunk, but I hadn’t slept. I hadn’t been to bed.”
The soccer analyst and former Millwall player has come in for a barrage of criticism after he announced his hope that Ireland would lose its matches against Cameroon and Germany during the station’s coverage of the matches.
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“The last couple of weeks have been unpleasant for me and people close to me and I think I shouldn’t do any more World Cups,” he said.
The presenter of Ireland’s version of “The Weakest Link” said his statement on-screen was “inexcusable”.
“This has been a bad week for me professionally,” he said.
Dunphy indicated he would not be rejoining RTE’s panel for the Ireland-Saudi Arabia match even they wanted him because the “collateral damage” had been too big as be had become a “player” in the situation and screwed up as a journalist.
“I’ve screwed up, so I will take the consequences and I’ll watch it on the telly,” he said. “Life’s goes on. No one’s dying, thank God, and we’ll get over it.
“As a family it has been a bad experience and I think some of the newspaper coverage wasn’t very nice.”
Dunphy is writing a biography of former national captain Roy Keane and strongly supported the Manchester United star in his confrontation with and subsequent sacking by manager Mick McCarthy.
One of the highest-paid Irish journalists, Dunphy had said he wanted Ireland to lose against Cameroon and Germany, not because he wanted the players to do badly but because he wanted to see the game in Ireland “given a chance to prosper.”
Following his remarks, the station was inundated with complaints from furious fans.
He also got a drubbing in the weekend papers. “We are talking about a football tournament here. We are talking about very high emotions,” he said.