The FAI has said it will waive a €3,000 fine for an 11-year-old girl who ran onto the pitch at the Aviva Stadium to meet footballer Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday night.
Addison Whelan from East Wall in north inner city Dublin is a Shelbourne under-13 player and a “huge fan” of the Portuguese forward.
As the last whistle sounded at the end of Republic of Ireland’s nil-all draw with Portugal, Addison “jumped over the barrier and just started sprinting”.
She said a security member at the Aviva told her she would have to pay “a three grand fine” for running out onto the pitch, but a statement from the Football Association of Ireland confirmed she would not face any fine for approaching the football star.
“We want to assure Addison that of course she will not face any fine for running onto the pitch and asking for Ronaldo’s jersey,” FAI media and football relations director Cathal Dervan said.
Despite absolving Addison, the FAI reminded other fans that “at all games fines are liable to be levied by Uefa in certain instances for entering the field of play, particularly when the game is ongoing and we urge all fans to respect this very sensible rule”.
Addison spoke with RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Friday about how she evaded stewards when she ran onto the pitch.
“I jumped over the barrier, I had been in the second row, then I sprinted onto the pitch,” she said.
Caught by security
Even though she was chased (and caught) by security and stewards Addison managed to get close to the Portuguese and Manchester United star and began shouting his name to catch his attention.
“He turned around and saw me and told them to leave me, he came over to me. I was shaking and crying.”
Addison had the presence of mind to tell the star that she was a great fan and asked him for his jersey which he gave her and asked her if she was OK.
“My Da’s face was in shock.”
When asked what she was thinking at the time, Addison replied: “Oh my god, this is it, this is my chance, it’s come true.”
Addison said that the stewards “weren’t giving out. They were holding me by the arms asking me where I came from”.
The fifth class student at St Joseph’s NS admitted that she had been nervous, but she now has his shirt. “It’s right beside me. I don’t want to try it on”.
Addison’s dream is to play for Arsenal and the Ireland women’s team, in the meantime she is gearing up for a game between Shelbourne and Bohemians. She expects to win.