The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) have lodged a formal complaint with FIFA over the World Cup play-off defeat to France and have urged football’s governing body to replay the match.
France striker Thierry Henry handled the ball to set up William Gallas’ decisive goal as France drew 1-1 at the Stade de France on Wednesday night, winning the two-legged tie 2-1 on aggregate.
“The handball was recognised by the FIFA commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials, as well as by the player himself,” the FAI said.
The goal has caused anger across Ireland with Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and assistant Republic of Ireland coach Liam Brady both calling for the game to be replayed.
“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,” the FAI said.
FIFA ordered Uzbekistan to replay Bahrain in a play-off for the 2006 World Cup in Germany after the referee made a mistake when a penalty had been awarded.
“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,” the FAI added.
However, in that game, the referee was guilty of applying the rules incorrectly 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 scored a penalty. the referee should have ordered the penalty to be retaken.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni wants FIFA to explain their choice of referee for the game but accepts that there is no chance that the game will be replayed.
“All fans saw what happened on the pitch,” Trapattoni said. “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 know it’s impossible to replay the game,” the Italian added.