The Football Association of Ireland appealed to world football's governing body Fifa to replay their World Cup playoff in Paris after an obvious handball by Thierry Henry assisted the winning goal.
|The moment it all went wrong for Ireland - but is it worthy of a replay? [AFP]
Passions were running high as Ireland's government and football association united in demands for Wednesday's 1-1 draw in France to be replayed.
France booked their place in next year's finals in South Africa with a 1-1 second-leg draw after striker Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up to their goal.
"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," read an FAI statement.
"The hand-ball was recognised (by) the Fifa commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials as well as by the player himself."
The FAI issued the statement as Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni was telling a news conference it would be impossible to replay the match.
"I cannot ask this because I know it is impossible," said Trapattoni after his team had gone out 2-1 on aggregate.
"When a referee decides, it ends the game for me."
The Italian instead criticised Fifa's late decision to seed the playoff draw and called on the ruling body to scrap extra time in similar games as it handed an advantage to the team drawn at home in the second leg.
"There are many doubts that remain that have to be eliminated. I will go to Fifa and advise them on what we think," said Trapattoni before adding video replays were likely to be brought in for the future.
France striker and Barcelona star Henry admitted the handball to press shortly after the game, but distanced himself between his actions and the role of the referee.
"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," said Henry.
"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"
"We suffered for two years. We have been having some problems with our press, our fans and other people. It would have been better to do it in another way, but as I said: I'm not the ref."
The FAI said there was a precedent for a replay to be staged, citing a decision to invalidate the result of a World Cup qualifier between Uzbekistan and Bahrain in 2005 on the basis of a "technical error by the referee".
"The Football Association of Ireland is hoping Fifa and its disciplinary committee will, on behalf of football fans worldwide, act in a similar fashion so the standards of fair play and integrity can be protected," added the FAI.
Earlier, Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern led calls for a replay, saying Fifa owed it to thousands of devastated fans around the country.
"If that result remains, it reinforces the view that if you cheat you will win,'' said Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern - who also pointed out that two French players appeared to be offside from a free kick that preceded the goal.
"Millions of people worldwide saw it was a blatant double handball, not to mention a double offside,'' Ahern said.
"We should put the powers that be in the cosy world of Fifa on the spot and demand a replay.''