On The 11/29 TWT:Ireland concede defeat in replay bid
AFP – Ireland on Saturday conceded defeat in its bid to have a controversial World Cup play-off against France replayed.
Irish football chiefs had appealed to football’s world governing body FIFA and to the French Football Federation (FFF) to have the second leg of the play-off replayed because of Thierry Henry’s handball in the build-up to William Gallas goal which sent France to the finals.
Both FIFA and the FFF rejected the appeals and FAI chief executive John Delaney acknowledged in a statement that there was nothing else that could be done.
“We regret that despite our best efforts for a replay, which would have restored the integrity of the game in front of a world-wide audience, our calls appear to have fallen on deaf ears at the French Football Federation.
“Without doubt, the credibility of fair play has been damaged by this incident in front of a worldwide audience.
“Despite our deep disappointment, we thank our players, the wonderful Irish fans and the Irish public at large for their support, as well as the solidarity of the French people.
“We will continue to call on FIFA to take action to ensure that such damaging examples of cheating are not allowed to recur.”
Gallas’s late goal ensured the second leg of the play-off finished 1-1 with France booking their place in next year’s finals 2-1 on aggregate.
But the manner of their qualification provoked an international outcry with even Henry, who has been pilloried as a cheat around the globe, joining calls for a replay as “the fairest solution,” while French and Irish leaders became embroiled in the row at a European Union summit in Brussels.
The incident has strengthened the position of those who argue that referees need more help, either from video technology or extra officials, to get key decisions right in high-stakes matches.
One direct consequence of Henry’s handball could be that matches at the World Cup finals next year are played with two extra officials positioned on goal-lines, a system that is being tried out on an experimental basis in this season’s Europa League.