Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Spoof diplomatic dispute a 'tall tale'

By Bryce McGarel
BBC News

Stephen Carr and Thierry Henry
Ireland played France at Croke Park on Saturday

A series of spoof letters between the French and Irish governments have been posted online leading to fears of a "diplomatic dispute" between the nations.

The two countries played each other in a vital first-leg World Cup qualifying match in Dublin on Saturday.

France won the match 1-0.

The tall tale, which is posted on the Irish Soccer Insider blog, centres around a request from a French diplomat asking the fictitious Irish Department of Diplomacy to provide a VIP box at Croke Park for President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Replying to the request, 'Irish diplomat' Bill O'Leary corresponds to his French counterpart at the "Consulate General de France" on Rue des Blageur (which roughly translates as Joke Road).

He informs him that the stadium offers a number of options and asks if they have any specific requirements - for example, size.

Thanking him for his prompt response, French official Jacques de Mauriers writes again asking if the size of the box will "have any bearing" on the president's enjoyment of the game.

In reply, Mr O'Leary informs Mr Du Maurier that the president's choice of box will "certainly influence the president's enjoyment of the match".

"The first box is 30cm high and will allow the president to see most of the Croke Park pitch, though he may not be able to see play in the north-west quadrant," he writes.

"The second box is 60cm, but whilst this will afford the president a panoramic view of the pitch, it will also make him visible to press photographers, which may compromise his privacy."

In attempt to sort out the confusion, Mr Du Maurier writes back to the Irish diplomat pointing out that they were not looking for a box for their country's leader to stand on.

"Whilst we expect the foreign media to make humorous remarks about the president's diminutive stature, we do not expect this from an official representative of the Irish government," he writes.

Immediately, the Irish write back to apologise and offer Mr Sarskozy a VIP executive box to watch the match from.

"The boxes will then be place discreetly inside," Mr O'Leary adds.

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Failing to see the joke, Mr Du Maurier writes to say that the president has decided to watch the match from Paris.

"Rest assured, we will be lodging a formal complaint regarding your conduct at the highest level," he adds.

Unperturbed by this, the genial Irish diplomat takes the threat in his stride.

"Fair enough," he signs off.

"We look forward to seeing the boys in green give your lot a good hammering."

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