The Irish aren’t so lucky after all, at least not when it comes to playing for a place in the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.First came 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. Then the lucky goal by Nicolas Anelka in the first leg of the play-off match played in Dublin which clinched a 1-0 win for the French and on Wednesday in the second-leg of the match a goal by French captain Theirry Henry which put the Republic of Ireland out of the World Cup in the cruelest fashion.
The Republic of Ireland were leading the game by a goal scored in the 33rd minute by their captain Robbie Keane and it looked like the Irish would be going to the World Cup after all but Thierry Henry had other plans. In extra time, the French captain showed great basket balling skills as he handled the ball twice before playing it to William Gallas who scored a winner which put France in the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.
The Irish cursed their luck and couldn’t believe the referee hadn’t seen such a blatant violation of the most basic of football rules while the French players celebrated their ‘victory’, all the while knowing that they had cheated the Irish out of a place in the World Cup finals.
Now, the Football Association of Ireland have made a formal complaint to FIFA and written to the France Football Association asking for a re-match. Hopefully, the Irish run of bad-luck won’t continue and the match would be replayed which is more than a fair demand. Millions around the world saw the very obvious case of cheating by the French. The chief commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials have all recognised the handball.
Thierry Henry has already admitted to the handball, saying, “I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref. I played it, the ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him.” It’s time that FIFA be seen valuing integrity and upholding the spirit of fair play in the game by ordering a replay.