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Nov 19, 2009

Bitter Keane blasts Platini and Blatter

Ireland captain Robbie Keane has hit out at the presidents of FIFA and UEFA following his country's controversial World Cup exit in Paris, claiming they would be "delighted" that France had gone through. • Maher: Ireland hard done by
• France 1-1 (2-1 agg) Ireland
• Ireland fuming over handball
• Henry admits handball

Les Bleus striker Thierry Henry clearly used his hand to set up William Gallas' decisive goal as France levelled Keane's opener at the Stade de France to draw 1-1 on Wednesday night, winning the two-legged tie 2-1 on aggregate. After the match, an angry Keane lambasted FIFA's 11th hour decision to seed the World Cup play-off draw in favour of the big teams, which ultimately pitted the Irish against France, and the Ireland international claims FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini got the result they would have wanted. "Of course it is an easy decision to do the seedings," Keane told BBC Radio Five Live. "They're all probably clapping hands, Platini sitting up there on the phone to Sepp Blatter, probably texting each other, delighted with the result, with France (getting through)." The Tottenham Hotspur striker claims that when it emerged that established football powers such as France, Portugal and at one stage Germany could be involved in the play-offs, football's governing bodies quickly went back on their initial decision not to seed the knock-out ties. Keane said: "Germany had a chance of being in the (play-offs) as well. With two massive countries, there's no way in a million years is there going to be fair draw." Ireland's assistant manager Liam Brady also took a swipe at the seeding system and blamed FIFA's weighted draw for heaping a huge amount of pressure on referee Martin Hansson. Brady said: "I would maybe look at what happened three months before and the fact that these seedings for the play-offs were made to favour the bigger teams. I would ask why that went on. "The pressure on referees is enormous then. The pressure is too much to bear and I hought the referee up until then had refereed the match in fine fashion, but he succumbed under pressure." After the match, Henry admitted the ball did strike his hand and claims he told the referee, who chose to allow the goal to stand. The Barcelona striker said: "The ball hit my hand, I will be honest. It was a handball, you can clearly see it. (Sebastien) Squillaci went to jump with two Irish players, I was behind him and the next thing I know the ball hit my hand. "It was a handball, but I'm not the ref. I told (the referee) but he said to me the same: 'You are not the ref.'" Ironically, if Platini's brainchild of having two extra assistants behind the goal, which the Frenchman is trialling in the Europa League, had been in action, Henry's handball would have been detected and the UEFA chief's countrymen prevented from progressing.


• Does Thierry Henry still deserve his place at the top of the Castrol Rankings following his controversial handball? Join the debate.

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