World Cup - Irish FA: FIFA must order replay

Thu, 19 Nov 14:40:00 2009

The Irish FA has called on FIFA to "step up to the plate" and order a replay of the controversial World Cup play-off against France.

FOOTBALL 2009 France-Ireland - 0

France booked their place in next year's World Cup finals with a 1-1 draw in Paris, but striker Thierry Henry handled the ball before setting up France's crucial extra-time goal.

"The blatantly incorrect decision by the referee to award the goal has damaged the integrity of the sport and we now call on FIFA, as the world governing body for our sport, to organise for this match to be replayed," an FAI statement read.

And FAI chief executive John Delaney urged FIFA to uphold their own stated principles of fair play.

"I really believe the integrity of the game has been questioned," Delaney said.

"The governing body of world football have to step up to the plate and accede to our call for a replay."

Irish Justice minister Dermot Ahern had led initial calls for the World Cup play-off match to be replayed, and Ireland assistant manager Liam Brady backed the idea, saying the team would be happy to play.

"They probably won't grant it as we are minnows in world football but let's put them (FIFA) on the spot," said Ahern.

"It's the least we owe the thousands of devastated young fans around the country.

"Otherwise, if that result remains, it reinforces the view that if you cheat, you will win.

"Thierry Henry has admitted handling the ball, claims he told the ref he handled it.

"Millions of people worldwide saw it was a blatant double handball - not to mention a double offside - and we should put the powers that be in the cosy world of FIFA on the spot and demand a replay."

Brady said that the team would be delighted to have a rematch - but was convinced FIFA would never allow it.

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

"When you look at the film I think he kept the ball in play and he meant it. I wouldn't go down the road of saying it was cheating, the players seek every advantage they can.

"I wouldn't blame Thierry Henry for what went on: I would look at what happened three months before and the fact that the seedings for the play-offs were made to favour the bigger teams like France, Portugal, Germany or Russia."

Republic of Ireland player Sean St Ledger agreed with Brady about his willingness to play again.

"Without a doubt (but) I don't think it's going to happen realistically," he said. "Of course we would all like it to be replayed."

St Ledger added that he does not hold anything against handball culprit Henry.

"He is a world-class player and he has had a great career," he said.

"I suppose if roles were reversed and it was one of our players we wouldn't be moaning too much.

"I'm not too sure you can put too much blame on the player."

Reuters / Eurosport

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