Irish ask Fifa for France replay

FAI chief demands France replay

The Football Association of Ireland has lodged a complaint with Fifa asking for their World Cup play-off against France to be replayed.

Republic of Ireland were beaten 2-1 on aggregate after France won with goal scored when captain Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up.

Fifa insisted its disciplinary code says referees’ decisions “are final”.

And the situation took on a political aspect as the Irish and French prime ministers disagreed over the matter.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen called on Fifa, football’s world governing body, to order a replay, saying he would raise the issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a Brussels summit.

Trapattoni wants referee choice clarification

But France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon responded that the Irish government should not interfere in footballing decisions.

Republic manager Giovanni Trapattoni said he does not expect a replay.

“When a referee decides a game has finished I know it is impossible to replay the game,” said the Italian.

“This situation has to give a chance to who is responsible to rethink. It can be repeated in the future and we have to stop it.”

Fifa confirmed that it has received the letter from the FAI.

In a statement, football’s world governing body added: “As stated in Law 5 of the Laws of the Game, and also in Article 13, paragraph 6 of the Regulations of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, ‘no protests may be made about the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play. Such decisions are final, unless otherwise stipulated in the Fifa Disciplinary Code.'”

Trapattoni’s side lost the first leg in Dublin 1-0 but were leading 1-0 in Paris before Henry handled the ball and squared for William Gallas to nod in a goal that sent France to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa and left the Republic heartbroken.

It wasn’t up to Henry to say ‘I touched it with my hand’
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni

“The handball was recognised by the Fifa commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials, as well as by the player himself,” read the FAI statement.

“There is precedent for the invalidation of such results. In 2005, the bureau of the Fifa World Cup organising committee reached a decision to invalidate the result of a World Cup qualification match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain on the basis of a ‘technical error by the referee of the match’.

“The Football Association of Ireland is hoping that Fifa and its disciplinary committee will, on behalf of football fans worldwide, act in a similar fashion so that the standards of fair play and integrity can be protected.”

FAI chief executive John Delaney added that the organisation had also written to their French counterparts as he urged Fifa to back up their words over fair play with actions.

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“When you ask me is this clutching at straws, we have to do what we are doing,” said Delaney. “We have to do it. It is up to the people who govern the game now, if they really believe in the principals of fair play then step forward.

“Every time I go to congress it is all about fair play and fair play ambassadors but well done is better than well said. They’re words, I’d like to see actions.

“From the French FA point of view they need to look at themselves in this situation.

“Henry is their captain and a wonderful footballer but does he want to be like Diego Maradona and his legacy to be this handball, this goal that got them to the World Cup in an unjust manner?

“If we had qualified in this manner, I wouldn’t be happy.”

Referee Martin Hansson and his assistants failed to see Henry’s offence and Trapattoni questioned the appointment of the officials, as well as Fifa’s decision to seed the play-off draw at late notice.

The Fifa rankings had Ireland in 34th place, meaning France, Russia, Portugal and Greece were seeded for the two-legged play-off matches.

Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build up to France's goal
Henry prevented the ball going out of play with his hand

The top four teams were then drawn to face Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Slovenia.

“All fans saw what happened on the pitch,” said Trapattoni. “I would only like to say I would like Fifa to explain how they selected the referee for this important game.

“For this important game we needed a stronger referee – an important referee.”

He added: “I would give the advice to Fifa – maybe in the future change the rules about the play-off. Play two games and at the end of 90 minutes have no extra-time.

“I will go to Fifa and advise them ‘go straight to penalties’. It’s better for football. I think there are mistakes in life – I’ve seen many situations in football but change the rules.

“All sports lose credibility with this situation – it affects the integrity of the game. For me, it’s bitter. There are many questions – they changed the rules about the seeded teams, then us playing away last.

“There are many doubts that have to be eliminated. Out of the non-seeded teams we were the only ones to play the second game away – why?”

Trapattoni refused to blame Henry but believes this sort of situation could force Fifa into bringing in the type of video technology that many in the game say is needed.

“There is a 30-second stop and we clarify the situation,” he said. “I’m sure in the future they will have to do something about it. It wasn’t up to Henry to say ‘I touched it with my hand.'”

Earlier, Republic of Ireland assistant manager Liam Brady said the team would be willing to replay their World Cup play-off match against France.

“We would go to Paris and play again,” Brady told Radio 5 live.

“It will not come to that but we would be willing to go to Paris, on their home ground, and have a fair winner.”

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