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FAI request France replay

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) have lodged a formal complaint with FIFA over the controversial World Cup play-off defeat to France and have urged world football's governing body to replay the match.

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Les Bleus striker Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball to set up William Gallas' decisive goal as France drew 1-1 at the Stade de France on Wednesday night, winning the two-legged tie 2-1 on aggregate.

"The handball was recognised by the FIFA commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials, as well as by the player himself," the FAI said.

The goal has caused outrage across Europe and the FAI share the view of Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and assistant Republic of Ireland coach Liam Brady who have both called for the game to be replayed.

"The blatantly incorrect decision by the referee to award the goal has damaged the integrity of the sport and we now call on FIFA, as the world governing body for our sport, to organise for this match to be replayed," the FAI said.

FIFA ordered Uzbekistan to replay Bahrain in a play-off for the 2006 World Cup in Germany after the referee made a mistake when a penalty had been awarded.

"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," the FAI added.

However, in the aforementioned instance, the referee was guilty of wrongly applying the rules rather than missing an offence. An indirect free-kick was awarded against Uzbekistan when one of their players encroached on the Bahrain penalty area as the Uzbeks successfully converted a penalty. The correct interpretation would have been to order the penalty to be retaken.

FAI chief executive John Delaney also confirmed that his organisation had contacted their French counterparts as they continue their quest to arrange a replay.

"I really believe the integrity of the game has been questioned last night," Delaney said. "The governing body of world football have to step up to the plate and accede to our call for a replay.

"We have got to do what we have to do. We owe it to the players, who were magnificent last night. The supporters were incredible. It is up to the people who govern the game now. Every time I go to a FIFA congress I hear about fair play and integrity.

"This was not a league game. This was a defining game with the whole world watching and if FIFA believe in fair play and integrity, this is their opportunity to step forward.

"From the French FA point of view they need to look at themselves in this situation. Henry is their captain and a wonderful footballer but does he want to be like Diego Maradona and his legacy to be this handball, this goal that got them to the World Cup in an unjust manner?"

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni wants FIFA to explain their choice of referee for the game but accepts that there is no chance of the match being replayed.

"All fans saw what happened on the pitch," Trapattoni said. "I would only like to say I would like FIFA to explain how they selected the referee for this important game. For this important game we needed a stronger referee - an important referee."

"I know it's impossible to replay the game," the Italian added.

FIFA confirmed on Thursday that they have received an official complaint from the FAI. A spokesman said: "We have received the formal request from the Football Association of Ireland regarding a replay of the match and FIFA will now look at this."

• 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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