Ireland call for match to be replayed

Click to follow

Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney has urged FIFA to uphold their own principles and "step up to the plate" by agreeing to replay last night's controversial World Cup play-off defeat by France.

The FAI today lodged a formal complaint with the world governing body, claiming the integrity of the game has been damaged after French forward Thierry Henry blatantly handled the ball during extra-time in the lead-up to the winning goal scored by William Gallas.

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

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

Delaney also confirmed the FAI have written to their French counterparts.

"We have got to do what we have to to do," he said. "We owe it to the players, who were magnificent last night. The supporters were incredible.

"It is up to the people who govern the game now. Every time I go to a FIFA congress I hear about fair play and integrity.

"This was not a league game. This was a defining game with the whole world watching and if FIFA believe in fair play and integrity, this is their opportunity to step forward.

"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?"

Delaney added: "If we had qualified in this manner, I wouldn't be happy.

"I really believe the integrity of the game has been questioned last night."

The FAI statement earlier said: "The handball was recognised by the FIFA commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials, as well as by the player himself."

Ireland's Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and assistant Republic of Ireland coach Liam Brady have both called for the game to replayed.

The FAI believe there is a precedent for the result to be struck out.

FIFA ordered Uzbekistan to replay Bahrain in a play-off for the 2006 World Cup in Germany after the referee made a mistake after a penalty had been awarded.

The governing body described it as a "technical error".

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

The FAI hit out at the referee, Swedish firefighter Martin Hansson, who failed to spot Henry use an arm to control the ball before squaring for team-mate William Gallas to score.

"Conclusive video evidence of a deliberate hand ball by Thierry Henry, which led to France's additional time goal, has been seen by millions of football fans worldwide," the FAI said.

"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."

FIFA say they have yet to receive an official request from the FAI.

The world governing did say however the referee's decision is final and they would not comment on decisions taken by match officials.

A FIFA statement said: "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. 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."

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni wants FIFA to explain their choice of referee for the game.

Trapattoni told a press conference in Dublin today: "All fans saw what happened on the pitch.

"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."

The Italian continued: "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 - no extra-time.

"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.

"I will go to FIFA and advise them 'go straight to penalties'. It's better for football."

Trapattoni admitted it had been a "bitter" experience and for him the circumstances of the play-offs were questionable.

He added: "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?"

The Italian believes there is no prospect of the match being replayed, adding: "I know its impossible to replay the game.

"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.

"There is a 30-second stop and we clarify the situation. I'm sure in the future they will have to do something about it."

Trapattoni did though absolve Henry, saying: "It wasn't up to Henry to say 'I touched it with my hand'."