FAI request France replay, but are Denied
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) lodged a formal complaint with FIFA over their controversial World Cup play-off loss to France and had urged world football’s governing body to replay the match, but their request has fallen on deaf ears.
The much talked about goal caused outrage across Europe after Thierry Henry admitted to his handball which put the French side through at the cruel expense of an Irish team who was the better side on the night. The FAI shared the view of Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and assistant Republic of Ireland coach Liam Brady who had both called for the game to be replayed. Even the central figure in the matter, Thierry Henry, claimed that the Irish “definitely deserved” to have the game replayed.
Unfortunately for the Irish, FIFA has ruled with an iron fist and dispelled any notion of a replay taking place. FIFA’s statement on the matter claimed, “…that the result of the match cannot be changed and the match cannot be replayed. As is clearly mentioned in the Laws of the Game, during matches, decisions are taken by the referee and these decisions are final.”
The world’s governing body has in the past ordered a replay, as was the case in a play-off for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Uzbekistan and Bahrain replayed their match after the referee made a mistake when a penalty had been awarded. The difference in situations involves the type of mistake. In the Uzbekistan/Bahrain instance, the referee wrongly applied the rules rather than missing an offence; a slight difference that won’t sit well with the Irish.
Adding fuel to the fire is FIFA’s long promotion of fair play which stresses integrity and sportsmanship. Many feel FIFA’s lack of proactive involvement in this incident was a huge step backward in this highly important matter.
In the words of the Football Association of Ireland, “The handball was recognized by the FIFA commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials, as well as by the player himself. The blatantly incorrect decision by the referee to award the goal has damaged the integrity of the sport…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.”
A harsh ending for the Irish and a very lucky escape for a underachieving France squad.