Fifa set to reject Ireland replay appeal

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The Independent Football

FIFA are set to reject the Republic of Ireland's call for a replay of last night's World Cup qualifying play-off with France.

The Football Association of Ireland today lodged a formal complaint with the world governing body, claiming the integrity of the game has been damaged after French striker Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball in the lead-up to the decisive goal.

FIFA said they are looking into the FAI's request but a senior source at the world governing body said they will have no option but to reject the demand.

The FIFA source told Press Association Sport: "There is no way the game can be replayed.

"To do so would cause absolute chaos for football. If it was replayed then every match in the future would also be subject to these calls for a replay any time a referee misses an incident.

"FIFA's rules are absolutely clear. Law five states that a referee's decision on points of fact are final. That is the end of it. You cannot replay the match on this basis.

"You have to have a rule that says the referee's judgement is always right."

The wording of Law five of the Laws of the Game states: "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. The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match."

The FAI are claiming there is a precedent because FIFA ordered Uzbekistan to replay a 2006 World Cup qualifier against Bahrain after the referee made a "technical error" after a penalty had been awarded.

However, in that instance, the referee was guilty of wrongly applying the rules rather than missing an offence - he awarded an indirect free-kick against Uzbekistan when one of their players encroached into the Bahrain penalty area as the Uzbeks successfully converted a penalty. The correct interpretation would have been to order the penalty to be retaken.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has called for the introduction of video replays, saying the stakes were now too high to allow such expensive mistakes.

FIFA said that with regards to goal-line technology "it is crucial that the same laws and conditions must apply worldwide so as to avoid any distortions in competitions".

"Amongst other issues, the questions of the human aspect of the game as well as the universality of the Laws of the Game have to be taken into consideration," they said in a statement.

Henry's handball would almost certainly have been spotted by the extra assistant referee behind each goal-line - the system that is the brainchild of UEFA president Michel Platini and is being trialled in this season's Europa League.