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Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

France's Thierry Henry escapes Fifa ban over handball

Thierry Henry handles the ball in the build up to France's goal
Henry handles the ball before setting up France's equaliser

Striker Thierry Henry will not be punished by Fifa for his handball in France's World Cup finals play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland.

The world governing body's disciplinary committee concluded there was "no legal foundation" to deal with the case.

The Barcelona striker handled the ball twice in the build-up to the decisive extra-time goal from William Gallas.

Only the illegal use of a hand to prevent a goal being scored is covered in relation to possible sanctions.

The decision means the 32-year-old former Arsenal player will not face a ban for any of France's matches in the World Cup finals this summer.

Shay Given and Paul McShane

Commentary of the moment Henry broke Irish hearts

"Handling the ball cannot be regarded as a serious infringement as stipulated in the Fifa disciplinary code," said a Fifa statement.

"There is no other legal text that would allow the committee to impose sanctions for any incidents missed by match officials."

Henry's handball caused an international furore, with the Republic claiming they had been "cheated" out of a place in the World Cup.

The extra-time goal meant the match in Paris ended 1-1, with France going through 2-1 on aggregate.

Later Fifa rejected a request from the Football Association of Ireland to have the match replayed.

Republic of Ireland defender Sean St Ledger told BBC Radio 5 live on Monday: "I'm shocked but not surprised really.

"Obviously I don't want to see players getting banned but at the same time it promotes, 'if you can get away with it, then do it'.

"I saw it [the handball] again today and I still believe the second time he intentionally handballed it. Across the board we are all hurt from it."

The Republic were angered even before the match by Fifa's decision to seed the play-offs, which allowed big sides like Portugal and France to avoid each other.

"I think it's appalling that Fifa said they've got no legal foundation but they still have the power to change the rules and introduce the seedings," St Ledger added.

"If they've got the power to change that rule I don't understand why they haven't got the power to change the rule here. So, confusing but not surprising.

"It won't surprise me if France go on and win the World Cup."

Previously, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said Henry was guilty of "blatant unfair playing" but stopped short of calling for him to be punished.


Henry apologised over the incident and later admitted it left him contemplating whether to quit international football.

On the back of the controversy surrounding the incident, Fifa met at Cape Town to consider goal-line technology and extra referees at the World Cup.

However, the sport's governing body decided against using additional referees in South Africa and have instead opted to set up an inquiry into the benefits of video technology and extra officials.


Perhaps the most controversial qualification. Having finished a point behind Serbia in Group Seven the French, led by Raymond Domenech, were paired with Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. A 1-0 win in Ireland was followed by a game of huge talking points in France, with the Irish going in front through Robbie Keane and taking the tie to extra-time. France won it, but with a goal from William Gallas that came from a blatant handball from Thierry Henry.

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see also
Unlucky Irish look to future
31 Dec 09 |  Football
Fifa chiefs to meet with Republic
03 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Henry faces inquiry over handball
02 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Republic World Cup plea rejected
01 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Republic ask for extra Cup place
30 Nov 09 |  World Cup 2010
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
France's World Cup qualifying highlights
03 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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