Fifa rules criticised after Henry escapes

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The Independent Football

FIFA will come under pressure to change their rules after Thierry Henry escaped punishment for his handball against the Republic of Ireland.

FIFA's disciplinary committee yesterday ruled they had no power to sanction the France striker because there was "no legal foundation" for them to deal with the case.

Under FIFA's current rules, only the illegal use of a hand to prevent a goal being scored is covered in relation to possible sanctions.

It is understood FIFA chiefs are now considering whether to propose a rule change to the International FA Board, the game's rulemaking body.

The disciplinary committee's decision means the 32-year-old former Arsenal player will not face a ban for any of France's matches in the World Cup finals this summer.

FIFA said in a statement: "The disciplinary committee reached the conclusion that there was no legal foundation for the committee to consider the case because handling the ball cannot be regarded as a serious infringement as stipulated in article 77a) of the FIFA disciplinary code.

"There is no other legal text that would allow the committee to impose sanctions for any incidents missed by match officials."

Henry's handball in the run-up to William Gallas' decisive goal in the World Cup play-off qualifier ended the Republic's dreams of qualifying for the finals in South Africa.

The Football Association of Ireland were infuriated by the goal and demanded a replay, then even suggested they should be allowed to go to the World Cup as a 33rd team.

FIFA dismissed their demands but did agree to have another look at the possibility of using video evidence in the future, and referred the Barcelona striker's handball case to their disciplinary body,

Republic defender Sean St Ledger believes FIFA have set a dangerous precedent by not punishing Henry.

"I don't want players to get banned, I'm not a fan of that," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "But (the decision) promotes 'if you can get away with it, do it'.

"FIFA said they've got no legal foundation but they still had the power to change the rules and introduce the seedings.

"I think if they've got that kind of power to change that rule I don't understand why they haven't got the power to make a ruling here.

"It won't surprise me if France go on and win the World Cup."