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Blatter makes apology to Republic

Fifa president Sepp Blatter
Blatter revealed the Irish request at a conference in Johannesburg

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has apologised to the Football Association of Ireland for revealing that it asked for a 33rd place at the World Cup.

The FAI made the request after the Republic's controversial elimination in a qualifying play-off with France.

"I regret what I created by what I said and I'm sorry about the headlines," said Blatter on Wednesday.

"The Irish were very sporting people when they came to see us at Fifa. I'm very sorry about that."

Blatter said the FAI had written to withdraw their request, made when they felt they had been cheated out of a World Cup place by a handball by Thierry Henry that led to an aggregate winning goal for France in their European zone play-off match.

Blatter had been branded a 'loose cannon' and 'an embarrassment to Fifa' by Ireland's assistant manager Liam Brady for revealing details of a supposedly private meeting with Irish officials last week.

The former Arsenal and Juventus midfielder said the Irish federation believed its meeting was private and confidential.

"Mr Blatter is a law unto himself and I thought it was very disrespectful," Brady said.

Brady added that the Republic knew all along that there was very little chance of their request being granted but had decided to make it anyway on principle.

"We asked because we wanted them to respond in a measured way and see what they would say," he explained.

The Irish request was discussed at an extraordinary meeting of Fifa's executive committee on Wednesday but football's governing body had already said there was no chance of accommodating them in the 2010 World Cup field.

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see also
Henry faces inquiry over handball
02 Dec 09 |  Internationals
No extra officials for World Cup
02 Dec 09 |  Internationals
Houllier defends Henry's handball
01 Dec 09 |  Internationals
Republic World Cup plea rejected
01 Dec 09 |  Internationals
Republic ask for extra Cup place
30 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Fifa turns down Irish replay plea
20 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Keane has no sympathy for Irish
20 Nov 09 |  Internationals
The hand of Henry
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Irish 'cheated' by Henry handball
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
It was a handball - Henry
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
France 1-1 Rep of Ire (agg 2-1)
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals

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