Ireland requests replay of FIFA World Cup play-off with France

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Friday, November 20, 2009

FIFA - For the good of the game

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI), Irish Minister for Sport, Taoiseach and Facebook social network groups are requesting a replay of the controversial FIFA World Cup play-off between Ireland and France in the interests of Fair Play. The FAI lodged an appeal with FIFA and also contacted the French Football Federation (FFF), it appears FAI hopes FFF may agree that a replay is fair play. Both captians, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane, have called for a replay.

The Irish supporters, who in the past have won the FIFA Fair Play Award, are angry after a blatant double handball by Thierry Henry enabled France to score the extra-time goal that cost Ireland entry to next year’s FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa. Most Irish anger has been directed at FIFA, although French captain Thierry Henry has admitted handling the ball.

FAI has argued that there is a strong precedent; in 2005 where FIFA invalidated the result of a FIFA World Cup qualification match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain on the basis of a technical error by the match referee. However, Law 5 of the Laws of the Game state that: "The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final." and a source at Fifa headquarters in Switzerland said that “there is no way the game can be replayed”. The generic concept of fair play is a fundamental part of the game of football and the Fair Play Campaign was conceived largely as an indirect result of the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, when the handball goal by Diego Maradona.

The referee Martin Hansson and (referee's assistants) Stefan Wittberg and Fredrik Nilsson were unable to see the incident but didn't ask Thierry Henry if he handled the ball. Its hoped the mistake won't cost the Swedish referee's a place in South Africa. FIFA's Fair play policy is playing by the rules, using common sense and respecting fellow players, referees, opponents and fans. The French union representing the nation’s gym teachers declared outrage at what it called “indisputable cheating.”

Minister for Sport Martin Cullen wrote to FIFA president Sepp Blatter urging him to call a rematch in the interests of fair play. Taoiseach Brian Cowen raised the issue with French president Nicolas Sarkozy on the fringes of last night’s EU summit. French Prime minister François Fillon said “neither the French government nor the Irish Government should interfere in the functioning of the international federation”.


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