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Dec, 1, 2009

FIFA: 33rd team hopes "impossible"

FIFA has told Republic of Ireland that it would be "impossible" for them to feature in the World Cup finals next year after the country asked to be added to the tournament as a 33rd team.

• Brady labels Blatter an embarrassment
• Maher: Time for Ireland to move on

Ireland had initially hoped for a replay of their World Cup play-off against France after Thierry Henry clearly handballed in the lead-up to William Gallas' decisive goal, but that request was dismissed. The FAI then suggested that they could join France in South Africa as an extra team.

However, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has now confirmed that there is no chance that the governing body will change the format of the tournament to accommodate extra teams.

"I wouldn't say it's a nonsense but it is impossible," he said. "There's no hope to give that there will be any more than 32 teams at the World Cup in South Africa."

The matter will still go before Wednesday's organising committee meeting in Cape Town as Ireland had made an official request, but he revealed FIFA president Sepp Blatter had already told Ireland that they had no hope of success.

Ireland assistant manager Liam Brady had already acknowledged on Tuesday that FIFA would not allow them to take part as a 33rd team.

"That's not going to happen," he told Sky Sports News. "We asked that to see what FIFA's reaction was going to be."

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