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Given slams FIFA's decision to seed play-offs

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given has slammed FIFA's decision to protect the tradtional bigger nations by seeding the European World Cup play-offs as "disgusting".

FIFA announced last week that there would not be an "open draw" between the eight nations which make it through to November's two-legged knockout ties. It means that there is no chance of Germany and France playing each other for a place on the plane to South Africa should they both end up in second place in their group.

If the draw was made now the seeded nations would be Croatia, France, Greece and Russia. And they would be drawn against either Bosnia, Ireland, Slovenia or Sweden. Of course, those teams could change by next Wednesday.

It is a tactic which both FIFA and UEFA have used in the past for qualifying play-offs, seemingly afraid that a tournament without one of those big names is unthinkable. In 2005, Spain were seeded and drawn against Slovakia, the weakest of the six teams in the play-offs.

Given is furious at the decision, which he understandbly feels could hurt Ireland's chances of making it to the finals next summer.

He said: "I think it's pretty disgusting, to be honest. Before a ball is kicked, these things should be made clear. Now they change it because some of the big nations are struggling. It's beyond belief, if you ask me.

"It's pretty disgusting because we are a smaller nation and for them to move the goalposts a few weeks before the end of the campaign is pretty poor. The smaller nations should maybe put up more of a fight because it is not fair.''

Coach Giovanni Trapattoni believes the rules should be changed in future to ensure all teams are competing on an even playing field. He said: "In the future, FIFA and UEFA have to think about changing this rule.

"Four or five years ago, the big teams - like Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid - wanted to create a super league, but it was dangerous for football and they gave up on it. That would have been the death of football. It was football for eight teams and the others are dead.

"This situation in the future must change, because every country has the right to qualify. This draw must be open to give the same opportunity to everybody.''

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