FIFA: No replay for France-Ireland WCup qualifier

FIFA: No replay for France-Ireland WCup qualifier

Published Nov. 20, 2009 12:07 p.m. ET

FIFA ruled out the possibility of replaying the disputed France-Ireland World Cup qualifier on Friday, rejecting an Irish appeal to stage the playoff again after Thierry Henry handled the ball to set up the deciding goal in extra time.

"In the reply, FIFA states that the result of the match cannot be changed and the match cannot be replayed," FIFA said in a statement. "As is clearly mentioned in the Laws of the Game, during matches, decisions are taken by the referee and these decisions are final."

Henry used his left hand to keep the ball from going out of play, then passed to William Gallas, who headed in the decisive goal. At the time of Henry's unpunished handball, the match was 17 minutes from reaching a penalty shootout.

The match at Stade de France ended in a 1-1 draw, enough to qualify France for next year's World Cup in South Africa 2-1 on aggregate after the 1998 world champions won the first leg of the playoff in Dublin 1-0.

Henry admitted later that he handled the ball, but Swedish referee Martin Hansson did not spot the infraction.

In Dublin on Friday, the Football Association of Ireland said it received FIFA's reply rejecting a replay. The FAI said its management board would meet to consider the matter later Friday.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he would raise the issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a meeting of the 27 EU leaders in Brussels.

FIFA did order Uzbekistan and Bahrain to replay a World Cup qualifying match in 2005 following a referee's critical error. However, there is no precedent to order a replay because of second-guessing a referee's judgment on the field.

Irish lawmaker Joe McHugh said France should follow the 1999 precedent set by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, a Frenchman who volunteered to replay a match in England's FA Cup after the Gunners won on an unfair goal.