Ireland knocked back by Fifa

Request to be 33rd team at World Cup rejected following storm over Henry handball.

    Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni after the draw in Paris that knocked his side out [GALLO/GETTY]
    The Republic of Ireland have had their latest attempt to be admitted to the World Cup in South Africa rejected by football's world governing body.

    Fifa said Ireland will not be invited into the World Cup as a 33rd team as requested, even though Thierry Henry's handball helped France eliminate the Irish in a playoff.

    Secretary general Jerome Valcke said on Tuesday it was "impossible" to change the structure of the tournament and that it would open Fifa to a host of other complaints of teams that felt they were cheated during qualifying.

    Valcke said he "would not say it is a nonsense but it is impossible."

    Decisive goal

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter said on Monday that the Irish had written to him asking to be let into the 2010 tournament in South Africa because of Henry's handball, which led directly to William Gallas' decisive goal in Paris.

    The strike gave France a 1-1 draw, meaning they won 2-1 on aggregate following their earlier 1-0 victory in Dublin.

    The "Hand of Henry" caused a storm of protest, particularly in the Emerald Isle.

    It was discussed in Parliament amid calls for the game to be replayed - a course of action backed at least publicly by Henry himself, who admitted the deliberate foul but said it was up to the referee to spot it.

    Prospects of a back route to the 2010 finals was never a realistic prospect for Ireland, who have not appeared in a World Cup since 2002.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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