Fifa president Sepp Blatter has issued an apology to the Football Association of Ireland after he was accused of breaking assurances he had given regarding the World Cup play-off controversy.
The row erupted in the continuing fall-out from Republic of Ireland’s elimination by France after Thierry Henry’s now infamous handball.
FAI claimed Blatter had gone against his word by revealing to the media that Ireland had requested to be included in the World Cup draw as the 33rd team in next summer’s finals.
The accusation came after Blatter had originally raised the subject at the Soccerex conference in Johannesburg earlier this week and his words were greeted with laughter from some delegates and journalists present.
Blatter has now issued a full apology to the Irish over the matter, saying at a press conference on Wednesday that there had been a ‘wrong interpretation.’
He said: “In this connection I would like to express my regrets – my regrets to a wrong interpretation of what I have said in the Soccerex.
“I have only announced they have asked it, but the presence in the Soccerex they don’t took it very, I would say, seriously.
“So I regret what I have created and especially towards the Irish Football Association, I am sorry about these headlines going around the world.
“Contrary I have nothing against the Irish, they were very sporting people when they came to Fifa and it is a pity that it has been now communicated in this way.