FIFA has turned down the Football Association of Ireland’s request for a replay of France’s World Cup play-off win over the Republic of Ireland.
The Republic were beaten 2-1 on aggregate after France won with a goal from William Gallas, after Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build up.
“FIFA has today, 20 November 2009, replied to the request made by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to replay the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa play-off match held on 18 November 2009 between France and the Republic of Ireland in Paris,” read an official statement from Fifa.
“In the reply, FIFA states that the result of the match cannot be changed and the match cannot be replayed.
“As is clearly mentioned in the Laws of the Game, during matches, decisions are taken by the referee and these decisions are final.”
The FAI’s chief executive John Delaney had lodged a complaint with Fifa asking for the match to be replayed to preserve the game’s “integrity”.
Fifa confirmed that it has received the letter from the FAI.
“The handball was recognised by the Fifa commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials, as well as by the player himself,” read the FAI statement.
“There is precedent for the invalidation of such results. In 2005, the bureau of the Fifa World Cup organising committee reached a decision to invalidate the result of a World Cup qualification match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain on the basis of a ‘technical error by the referee of the match’.
“The Football Association of Ireland is hoping that Fifa and its disciplinary committee will, on behalf of football fans worldwide, act in a similar fashion so that the standards of fair play and integrity can be protected.”
Delaney added that the organisation had also written to their French counterparts as he urged Fifa to back up their words over fair play with actions.
“When you ask me is this clutching at straws, we have to do what we are doing,” said Delaney. “We have to do it. It is up to the people who govern the game now, if they really believe in the principles of fair play then step forward.
“Every time I go to congress it is all about fair play and fair play ambassadors but well done is better than well said. They’re words, I’d like to see actions.
“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?
“If we had qualified in this manner, I wouldn’t be happy.”
“Sport loses credibility”
However, Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni said he does not expect a replay.
“When a referee decides a game has finished I know it is impossible to replay the game,” said the Italian.
“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.
‘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.
“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 have no extra-time.
“I will go to Fifa and advise them ‘go straight to penalties’. It’s better for football. 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. 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?”