Henry should have owned up, says Wenger

Henry's former mentor joins clamour from Ireland after blatant handball

Arsene Wenger yesterday said Thierry Henry should have admitted to his blatant handball that sent France to the World Cup finals, as the Football Association of Ireland called for their controversial World Cup play-off in Paris to be replayed.

Wenger, who managed Henry for eight years at Arsenal, made his feelings known to him after the match when the Barcelona striker used his arm twice to control the ball before crossing for William Gallas to score the decisive goal.

Asked on French TV whether Henry should have been honest with the referee, Wenger said: "Well, one should but one doesn't, we know, with the pressure and what's at stake."

The Arsenal manager went on: "I am not content because France shouldn't gain qualification with these things. All the stadium has seen the handball, but the referee hasn't. This isn't the French way and football should learn from this

"I have spoken to Titi [Henry] after the game and he knows it was not correct but it is up to the referee also to stop the play. We qualified because of a referee's mistake, the strength of a wrist and also the clumsiness of the Irish in front of their goal. We would have preferred to qualify in a different manner."

The FAI yesterday lodged a formal complaint to Fifa and called for their World Cup play-off with France to be replayed. The Irish claim a precedent was set in September 2005, when Fifa ordered the first leg of Uzbekistan's World Cup play-off with Bahrain to be played again after Japanese referee Toshitsu Yoshida made a wrong decision.

Uzbekistan scored a penalty but an attacker had encroached into the area and the goal was disallowed. However instead of having the kick re-taken, the ref gave an indirect free-kick to Bahrain. Uzbekistan won the game 1-0 but afterwards demanded a 3-0 forfeit.

The organising committee of the 2006 World Cup in Germany then declared the game invalid and ruled it must be replayed. The replayed match finished 1-1, and the second leg ended 0-0, and Bahrain went through on away goals.

The Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern joined the calls for the match to be replayed, along with Ireland's assistant manager, Liam Brady, who said: "For the dignity and integrity of football, we will go to France and play again."

But the Republic's manager Giovanni Trapattoni was less optimistic. "We know it will be impossible for the game to be replayed," he said.

Irish players struggled yesterday to contain their anger at Henry who has admitted the offence but claims the handball was accidental. Kevin Kilbane, who received his 102nd cap, said: "I asked him [Henry] on the pitch, 'Did you handball it?' and he said, 'Yes, but I didn't mean it'. But when I've seen the replay it's there for all to see."

Captain Robbie Keane was also furious and said: "Henry almost caught it and walked into the net with it. He actually dragged it in from going out. I wouldn't expect it from anybody."

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