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Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Fifa turns down Irish replay plea

Shay Given and Paul McShane

The moment Henry broke Irish hearts

Fifa has refused 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 appealed after losing 2-1 on aggregate to France thanks to a goal from William Gallas that came from a Thierry Henry handball in the build up.

A Fifa statement read: "The result will not be changed and cannot be replayed."

And the French Football Federation (FFF) has no intention of proposing a replay, BBC Sport has learned.

With Fifa having rejected the Republic's plea, it was thought Ireland's only hope was if France themselves came forward and backed plans for a replay - but the FFF believes such a notion to be a nonstarter, BBC Sport understands.

FAI chief demands France replay

The Fifa statement continued: "As is clearly mentioned in the laws of the game, during matches, decisions are taken by the referee and these decisions are final."

A Fifa source had earlier said: "There is no way the game can be replayed. To do so would cause absolute chaos for football. If it was replayed, then every match in the future would also be subject to these calls for a replay any time a referee misses an incident.

"You have to have a rule that says the referee's judgement is always right."

The FAI released a statement saying they would discuss Fifa's ruling at a previously arranged meeting on Friday afternoon.

The FAI's chief executive John Delaney originally lodged a complaint asking for the match to be replayed to preserve the game's "integrity".

And the situation took on a political dimension as the Irish and French prime ministers disagreed over the matter.

Irish PM backs the FIA's replay appeal

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen called on Fifa, football's world governing body, to order a replay, saying he would raise the issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a Brussels summit.

But France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon responded that the Irish government should not interfere in footballing decisions.

And Republic manager Giovanni Trapattoni, speaking before Fifa's announcement, said he did 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."

Trapattoni's side lost the first leg in Dublin 1-0 but were leading 1-0 in Paris before Henry handled the ball and squared for Gallas to nod in a goal that sent France to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa and left the Republic heartbroken.

"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.

Trapattoni wants referee choice clarification

"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."

Referee Martin Hansson and his assistants failed to see Henry's offence and Trapattoni questioned the appointment of the officials, as well as Fifa's decision to seed the play-off draw at late notice.

The Fifa rankings had Ireland in 34th place, meaning France, Russia, Portugal and Greece were seeded for the two-legged play-off matches.

The top four teams were then drawn to face Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Slovenia.

"All fans saw what happened on the pitch," said Trapattoni. "I would only like to say I would like Fifa to explain how they selected the referee for this important game.

Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build up to France's goal
Henry prevented the ball going out of play with his hand

"For this important game we needed a stronger referee - an important referee."

He added: "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?"

Trapattoni refused to blame Henry but believes this sort of situation could force Fifa into bringing in the type of video technology that many in the game say is needed.

"There is a 30-second stop and we clarify the situation," he said. "I'm sure in the future they will have to do something about it. It wasn't up to Henry to say 'I touched it with my hand.'"

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Liam Brady has also said the team would be willing to replay the match.

"We would go to Paris and play again," Brady told Radio 5 live.

"It will not come to that but we would be willing to go to Paris, on their home ground, and have a fair winner."

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see also
Keane has no sympathy for Irish
20 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Reaction to Republic of Ireland exit
19 Nov 09 |  Football
The hand of Henry
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Anger on the airwaves in Dublin
19 Nov 09 |  Europe
Irish 'cheated' by Henry handball
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
France 1-1 Rep of Ire (agg 2-1)
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Republic face France in play-offs
19 Oct 09 |  Internationals
It was a handball - Henry
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Keane 'devastated' by defeat
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
World Cup qualifying as it happened
18 Nov 09 |  Football
Republic unseeded for play-offs
16 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Republic of Ireland 0-1 France
14 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Pick your Rep of Ireland XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals

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